Laundry made easy

19 September 2016 | EntrepreneurshipCommunity
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College Laundry Bot tracks the availability of washing machines and notifies users when their laundry is ready for collection

Doing laundry at the University may no longer be a tedious chore, thanks to three students from NUS Residential College 4 (RC4) and their creative tracking device. The task often necessitated a trip to the laundry room only to find all washing machines in use, requiring them to then carry their clothes to other laundry rooms in search of an available washing machine. Though chalkboard scheduling can help track the use of washing machines, it still required trips to the laundry room to personally check on the schedule and available machines.

Enter College Laundry Bot, developed by Computer Science students Yong Shan Xian (Year 3) and David Ten (Year 2) and Life Sciences student Teo Wei Song (Year 2). A user-dependent bot on messaging app Telegram, it tracks the status of washing machines in the College, providing a common communication channel and eliminating the need for wasted trips to the laundry room.

Residents snap a picture of the “use” QR code after loading their clothes into the machine and send it to the bot. The bot informs them when their laundry is done. After collecting their clothes, they snap a picture of the “collect” QR code which notifies other residents that the machine has become available. 

The team took just three days to develop the bot, launching it the same night the QR codes and instructions were created. They were inspired by the successful College Supper Bot, used by residents to disseminate and collate meal options and orders.

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From left: Wei Song, David and Shan Xian

Barely a week old, College Laundry Bot has already garnered great interest from other Halls of Residence in NUS and even Nanyang Technological University. About half of RC4’s 600 residents currently use the platform. “Hopefully, this serves as an inspiration to others that you don’t always need to find a big, money-making problem to solve. It can just be small problems we face daily,” said Shan Xian. The team is currently building an administrative panel into the bot for others to generate their own QR codes within their respective halls and colleges.

As Head of interest group RC4[CODE], David is also passing on his knowledge of building Telegram bots to non-computing residents of RC4, equipping them with the necessary skills to solve their own unique problems. His classes, held twice weekly, have been oversubscribed, with almost 100 students across faculties and schools.

RC4 College Master Associate Professor Lakshminarayanan Samavedham is proud of the students’ initiative. “They’re trying to solve problems, both small and big, using technology. I think in some sense it fits into this concept of the smart nation, which Singapore is moving towards,” he said.

See media coverage.