At the beginning of the new semester, the class was told that we had a few options for the upcoming months. We could continue with our projects from last semester, we could start the process over with a new project, or we could design something to help out around the school. Our team decided to stick together, but to scrap our wheelchair design and start something new. After a lot of brainstorming, we have decided to make a “smart” trash can. Our product will be a small force sensor that can be placed in the bottom of a trashcan, and is connected to a galileo board. Also connected to the galileo board will be a bluetooth sensor, which will be able to relay recorded information to an app we are designing. The product will measure the amount of trash in the trash can and relay it to the app, where it will be recorded and displayed for the user. As time goes on, the owner will be able to track the amount of waste in pounds that they dispose of on a regular basis. Our hope is to be able to connect this app to a social networking site, such as Facebook, in order for friends to compete to see who throws away the least. Through this method, we want our product to inspire and encourage people to throw away less waste, and think that widespread adoption of our product could reduce the amount of waste in landfills by a significant amount. Humans are naturally competitive, and adding that component to our product will help to increase the impact of our device. Another potential use we could have for connecting to the social networking site is a way to track how much waste a particular area disposes of, which could potentially be an eye-opening number and encourage people to do more to reduce waste.
Over the past several weeks, our team has been doing research in to the various sizes of trashcans, app development, sensors, and potential materials. We’ve learned a lot and have already begun to draw our concept sketches and designs, and are discussing what we actually need and where to get it. We have the maker space as a resource, which is a huge advantage that our school offers us, and we already own a galileo board, which runs on an open source software program called arduino. We still need to locate a few more materials before we can start prototyping, but I am happy where the team is now.