Laundry Machine Automatic Notification System

Here is something I came up with in 2002 – I think IBM started doing something similar to this, but I am not sure. I would just love if someone would implement this. If I had the money I would. If you live in an apt – you know how I feel. Doing laundry sucks!!

Background:
Almost all apartment buildings and dormitories have laundry facilities. These facilities are usually located in a central location or at least one facility per floor. The problem with this is that because the majority of the apartment/dorm rooms are a fair distance away from the main laundry facility, people do not know when their laundry is done. Also, people waiting to do laundry do not know if any machines are open, and they would either have to go check (with their laundry or without) to see if there are any open machines. More often than not, this ends up with the person making a trip to only to find that all machines are in use, or if they went to check without their laundry, by the time they get back, the machine they were going to use is already taken. Another thing that can happen is that a person actually does their laundry, but instead of knowing when the loads are done, they forget and leave their laundry in the facility. Other residents that come in to do laundry have to move the wet or dried clothes out so that they can do their own laundry. A final problem is that the laundry machines take quarters. Most residents have dollar bills, etc. Thy complex usually provides change machines to cash out dollars into quarters.

Objective:
Using X10 technology, and a client/server model, a system can be put in place to solve all of the problems discussed in the background section of this document. A computer would have to be set up in each laundry facility room. This computer would talk to the laundry machines using X10 technology. Each apartment room would have to have an touch screen interface to the computer in the laundry room via an Ethernet network. Each resident would have an account that they could deposit money into, and the machines would recognize this account and automatically deduct when the person did laundry. The resident would be able to see the status of all machines, and they would be able to “check out� a machine, which would hold the machine till they got down to the facility. After getting their laundry started, they would be back in their apartment, and when their laundry was done, it would notify them by and alarm, or it could maybe even be set up to email them or call a telephone with a pre recorded message. It would give them a time to get back, for example 10 minutes. If they did not get back within 10 minutes money could be deducted from their account, or a person who had the machine checked out would get credit for waiting. The main office of the complex would also have an interface to the system. The office might be able to purchase premium support, which could allow the status of the facility to be broadcast securely over the Internet for 24/7 support if need be.

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