IoT Students Invented Device to Improve Social Distancing at Laundry Center

IoT Students Invented Device to Improve Social Distancing at Laundry Center

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Internet of Things student, Mr. Sanjeev Shakya, together with his roommate and classmate at AIT School of Engineering and Technology have invented the Laundry Monitoring Service (LMS) from their dorm room. The cost-effective smart device can be attached to any traditional washing machines to alert its users when a laundry machine is available.

Mr. Sanjeev Shakya met Mr. Oja Bajracharya, student of Telecommunications and also his roommate, and Mr. Rohith Padmanabhuni, student of Information Management, in the Internet of Things (IoT) Technology and Design class in January 2021. They were assigned a term project focusing on availability of washing machines on campus.

Ten trips to the laundry center later, Mr. Shakya led the team to finalize the algorithms in April and submitted their research paper, titled “Internet of Things System for a Laundry Monitoring Service,” to be published by IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Xplore journal. After many revisions, assisted by S.D. Arunya P. Senadeera, Assoc. Prof. Attaphongse Taparugssanagorn, and Prof. Matthew Dailey from the School of Engineering and Technology (SET), the paper was published and featured in the 5th World Conference on Smart Trends in Systems, Security and Sustainability held in London, UK, on July 29 – 30, 2021.

“Every time we had to do a laundry, we would go to the laundry center, attached our device to a washing machine to collect data, came to our dorm room to analyze the data, and then tweak something on the algorithms until the results were consistent,” said the IoT student, Mr. Shakya, as he looked back at how it all started.

Currently, only high-end smart washing machines come with a mobile app that allows the washing status to be viewed on the phone of the same make. What Mr. Shakya and his team have done will allow any washing machines, that exist even before IoT program was invented, to be tracked and provide the status on any smart phones with the LMS app. On this note, the system is easy to install and highly scalable.

“Most of the works of literature that we found had shown that the sensor currently employed by other people could already detect whether a washing machine is on or off, but it would require the power outlet to be modified. Very little literature had demonstrated the use of accelerometer that we’ve employed,” explained the IoT whiz of the reason he came up with LMS. He further added that, “Our solution is simple and efficient. The device can be attached to any washing machines in any angles or positions, without requiring any modifications.”

The LMS system takes 10 seconds to detect if the machine is available or not before it notifies the user waiting to do laundry. If the machine does not go silent for more than five minutes, the app will show ‘unavailable’ status. The five minutes window will provide an opportunity for the previous user to collect their laundry and leave the laundry center, so the next user can come in without crowding the space. This also provides safety from social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The young inventor said his LMS system is a good use case for public washing machine centers It can be adopted by any vendors by attaching the device to their washing machine to provide real time information on the availability of the machines. Customers can save time from not having to make a trip to the center just to find no machine is available. In addition, the system can track the performance of a washing machine for maintenance purpose by providing information of how many hours it has been used or if any part is damaged.

To take his invention to the next level, however, Mr. Shakya says ‘tiny machine learning’ will be key, and to get the key, he needs to learn more from AIT. The IoT engineer explains that his device currently sends data to be processed on the cloud system. He is now learning about tiny machine learning on microcontroller, which will allow data to be processed on the device and send results to the phone directly -- this will reduce time and provide highly accurate results.

Trained as a computer engineer with four years of experience working at a US-based software company in Nepal, Mr. Shakya found that he needed some fresh perspectives to divert from his previous monotonous routine. He enrolled as the first batch of SET IoT Systems Engineering program, one of the newest programs at AIT, and the only program offered in English at the graduate level in Thailand. It is estimated by within a few years from now, there will be 20.4 billion IoT devices connected to the internet, and Mr. Shakya is launching himself into the brave new world.

“My course is really unique, it’s like I can go to CS (Computer Science) building, Nanotech Building, Telecoms Building, ISE (Industrial Systems Engineering) building, it’s quite amazing,” said the first IoT student of AIT as he explained how he was enjoying the interdisciplinary nature of his program. As a former software engineer, Mr. Shakya said his only experience with the hardware came from his participation in a robotic competition in his undergraduate study, for the development of LMS, however, “most of the fundamentals were provided by Dr. Pong and Arunya during the IoT design course, which was started in January 2021, from that course I learned a lot about hardware prototyping and it helped me a lot.”

In addition to combining his software and hardware skills, Mr. Shakya said of his experience in getting his first academic paper published, “It gave me a very good learning opportunity of writing good research and it gave me a perspective on how to do a research as well, so it was a great learning opportunity.”

After graduating from AIT, Mr. Shakya is planning to take on the Silicon Valley, joining the Big Tech: Amazon, Apple, Google (Alphabet), Facebook, and Microsoft. From a humble start in his AIT dorm room with his roommate and a classmate, many great possibilities lie ahead for the IoT student Mr. Sanjeev Shakya.

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See LMS demo video: https://youtu.be/jMmBvHSgXng

IoT Systems Engineer is one of the latest programs offered at AIT School of Engineering and Technology. It focuses on IoT Systems Design/Implementation, Business Intelligence: a combination of software applications, software tools, and procedures, Data Security, IoT Application Design with Mobile Applications, Cloud Computing, Wireless and Mobile Technologies for IoT, IoT hardware (electronics and communications), Quality management, Networking Issues, IoT with AI based Solutions/Systems.