As college students, we all know what it’s like to feel pressed for time. When every minute could make the difference between reaching that midnight deadline and a grade deduction, a small task like doing laundry can become a major inconvenience. Even worse, those of us living in the Regent Commons are all too familiar with hauling our clothes to the laundry room only to find there are no machines available. Clothes pile up as people wait for available machines, and you find yourself repeatedly interrupting your workflow to check on them.
Thankfully, one Regent student has a plan that could fix this problem for good. Jeremy Moormann, an IT Major living in the Commons, hopes to apply his learning in a project he calls Laundry Link. In his words, “The idea is to have a very small system that you don’t have to interact with at all, other than via web browser, that allows the residents of the Commons to check the availability of the washer and dryer machines in the laundry room.”
That’s right—if everything goes according to plan, you’ll soon be able to check the status of the machines from the comfort of your room. Fourth floor residents, rejoice!
The idea for Laundry Link came to him one day while sitting in his economics class. A classmate mentioned a web app to check the availability of things as an economically lucrative idea, and Moormann drew a connection with a particularly busy laundry room he’d encountered that week. He left class and fleshed out a prototype design, which he claims “actually isn’t too complex.”
Moormann explains: “How we access things on the internet is via servers. If you were to go on Facebook, the site is hosted on a hard drive somewhere in the world.” Laundry Link draws on a similar idea, using a small electronics hobby board to interact with the physical hardware of the machines. “It’ll serve the webpage, which will have a status of all these machines if they’re available. It’ll show a green icon if it’s available and a red icon if it’s not.”
Assisting Moormann with the project is Guy Willis, a fellow IT Major who will help with the software. This means writing the code to go on the device, and ensuring that the code is easily accessible once the two of them graduate. Together, the two of them launched a petition to raise interest among residents and received 63 signatures before the idea caught the attention of Regent’s housing director, Adam Williams. Soon enough, Williams had asked to meet and discuss the plan.
Naturally, Williams wanted to know the pros and cons. One benefit of Moormann’s idea is the cost. All new machines with smart technology could cost thousands of dollars, while Laundry Link costs a total of $120. That’s about a quarter from everyone in the Commons. The website would be pretty simple to set up as well. “I thought it would be hard to implement,” said Moormann, “but once I looked into what it takes to actually set up a server, you can set up an entire company website in an afternoon.” Also, the laundry rooms are conveniently outfitted with ethernet jacks where his device can connect to, so there is no need for any major renovations.
There are a few hurdles to overcome, however. First, an outside company leases the washers and dryers, so Williams will have to discuss the idea with them before making any alterations. The second problem has to do with something called port forwarding. As the ethernet network and the WiFi network are somewhat separate, Moormann would need permission from the IT Department to push forward the network from the jack so that it can be accessed via WiFi. Lastly, he is still exploring ways to install the device in the hardware of the washers.
While installing Laundry Link in the dryers is a simple matter, Moormann is less sure about the washers. Right now he’s considering a stainless steel water switch, which will complete a circuit once the washer fills with water. But considering the drum is not full for the entirety of the wash cycle, he may need to explore other options.
Despite these worries, Williams told Moormann to keep in touch. He and Willis are actively working to flesh out their idea and are both very excited to move forward.