Don’t let the title throw you off. I am grateful for my first-ever hackathon resulting in a victory and I did work hard to earn it. But I don’t think I got the most wholly experience possible. Let me set the stage, then I’ll explain.
I joined forces with long-time friend and computer security guru, Connor Egbert, for BrickHack 4, the Rochester Institute of Technology’s annual winter hackathon open to the public. We’re both fourth-years at the school, but never participated in one of these endurance tests before. With the proverbial clock ticking away our remaining college experience, we decided to give it a try.
Connor brought the hardware and back-end to the table, while I brought the software and design. Over the next 24 hours, we’d turn an idea into a fully-working prototype inside of a dining hall-turned-digital den.
Going into the hackathon, we knew what we wanted to do: give non-“smart” laundry (washer and dryer) machines smart capabilities at a fraction of the cost. As freshmen, Connor and I would get mildly-inconvenienced when we’d bring our dirty clothes all the way down six floors to our dorm’s communal laundromat only to find that all the machines were occupied. Sigh.
Through some crafty engineering, we could place a motion sensor inside each machine and broadcast its occupational status, based on movement, to the particular laundromat’s “hub” (a server).
We arrived at a fitting tagline: if it’s shakin’, it’s taken.
We could have these units installed on all public machines, campus-wide, for less than 1/25 the cost of upgrading them through retail.
From the comfort of their dorm rooms, students could use the mobile interface I made to search their laundromat and see if there are any open machines.
This solution doesn’t rely on crowd-sourced information and is scalable. We named it Lndry, “laundry” without the vowels. (Look, we allocated all our creativity elsewhere…)