Members and Their Tasks
- Tae Jun Ham (tae@): Designed the lock system.
- Peter Yu (keunwooy@): Conducted an interview, helped with the design and the write-up.
- Dylan Bowman (dbowman@): Conducted an interview, helped design the product and answer questions.
- Green Choi (ghchoi@): Conducted an interview, drew the sketches and helped with the write-up.
All members contributed pretty much equally.
Problem and Solution Overview
Our idea addresses the common problem at Princeton of strangers tampering with, moving, or even stealing other peoples’ laundry that is left in the machine after the cycle. Our solution is to build a locking system to provide security. It will take Princeton NetID from the user and lock the machine until the grace period (10 minutes or so after the end of the cycle) is over. The user will be notified about the status of the machine via email. Other users who are waiting to use the machine can inquire the current user when he/she will retrieve the laundry by pressing a button on our device. By providing security and enabling the communication between users, our system can effectively prevent theft and tampering with laundry.
Description of Interviewees
- Male, 21, Junior, Econ Major, from Pennsylvania. Varsity soccer player. Normal/preppy style. Laundry every three weeks
- Male, 21, Senior, Architecture Major from Boston. Normal/preppy style. Laundry every month
- Female, 19, Freshman, No major yet from San Diego, California. Athletic style. Laundry once every month.
We chose these people, because they were doing their laundry or waiting to do their laundry in the laundry rooms on campus. These people are perfect candidates for our CI interview as they are our target users.
CI Interview Description
We waited in the laundry rooms of various locations on campus to interview people who came to do their laundry. We would then politely ask them to participate in a short interview, and we would ask them questions about their laundry process and related things. We kept things focused on specific things they did during their laundry process and what specific things were important or not important to them during that process. Some example questions we asked during our interviews: Describe your typical laundry routine in as much detail as possible. Do you stay while your laundry is running, or do you go do other things in the meantime? Do you usually retrieve your laundry as soon as it’s done or do you wait a certain amount of time (either accidentally or on purpose) before you do? Have you or your roommates ever had any problems with people taking your laundry out of the machines before? When d you usually do your laundry? And many more…
One theme that was common in our interviews was that people did not wait in the laundry room for their laundry to be done. They would usually return to their rooms or another place on campus to do work or other activities and return to get their laundry once it was done. This would imply that most people on campus do not wait around while their laundry is running. This is pretty easily explainable: Most people at Princeton are incredibly busy. Students have school work, real work, job applications, sports practices, musical practices, social activities, etc. They need to use any possible time they have to do these things and waiting around for their laundry to finish is not an option really unless they are doing work while they wait (which is what one of our subjects actually does). However, most people prefer to do their work in their rooms or a library rather than in a laundry room, and thus most people do not remain around to watch their clothes.
Another theme that was common in our interviews was that they seldom came back on time to retrieve their laundry, usually coming back 15 to 30 minutes late. Again, people are busy doing things and sometimes those things don’t end exactly when their laundry ends. Or sometimes people just forget their laundry is running. Both explanations have a hand in this effect, and our product can help with both. Only a few differences were observable. First, the subjects all had different levels of how far they would go when dealing with another person’s laundry. One said that he would take out a person’s laundry from either a washer or dryer if it was done running. Another said that he would only take it out of the dryer. This is interesting, but the fact still exists that people do take things out of machines when people don’t want them to and that’s where our product comes in. One last difference is the interview with the girl revealed concerns about the privacy of her clothes. We think this is fairly straightforward in that girls are more conscious about their clothes being seen or touched by other people. We feel that this feeling is in the majority among girls at Princeton.
Answers to 11 Questions
1. Who is going to use system?
– There are two parties involved in the laundry rooms on campus: people who are using the washing machines (the Current User) and people who are waiting to use the washing machines (the Next User). Let’s assume laundry thieves are included in the second group.
2. What tasks do they now perform?
– As of now, the Current User simply brings his/her laundry to the laundry room, puts the laundry in the machine, goes back to whatever he/she was doing, and then comes back to retrieve the laundry.
– The amount of time between when the laundry is done and when the student retrieves his/her laundry varies widely, and it’s one of the main causes of the temperament of laundry and theft.
– The Next User, when there is no available laundry machine, usually takes finished laundry out of the machine to use the machine. Thieves will steal the laundry that has been taken out of the machine.
3. What tasks are desired?
– As for the Current User, protection from other students taking their stuff out of the machines or steal it without knowledge of the user is desired. The task that we will provide with our product will be to prevent potential thieves or laundry miscreants from messing with or stealing the user’s clothes, something that is very personal and meaningful to most students.
– As for the Next User, a channel to communicate with the Current User of the laundry machine is desired. It could be a button that will send the Current User of the machine a message that someone wants to use the laundry machine. The Current User can also send a notification back to the device when he/she will be back. This way, the Next User knows when the Current User will be back and is less likely to take the laundry out, thereby preventing theft and temperament.
4. How are the tasks learned?
– Instructions will be emailed to student residential listserves
– Instruction placards or flyers will be posted in laundry rooms and on machines
– Instruction manual will be included with the product.
5. Where are the tasks performed?
– In public laundry rooms across campus with wifi connections
6. What’s the relationship between user & data?
– We deal with few data which include laundry machine status and user’s Princeton NetID. For laundry machine status, we will let all users to see it in remote location via separate website. For user’s Princeton NetID, as this information is private,
7. What other tools does the user have?
– Virtually all users will have access to constant communication through email. Our product will take advantage of this by emailing the user when certain actions occur, such as their laundry being done, or when someone waiting to use the machine presses a warning button on the locking unit during the wash cycle or during the waiting period.
8. How do users communicate with each other?
– One important way our product will facilitate important communication between users is through the use of a certain button that serves the following purpose: Our user’s laundry machines will remain locked by our product for a certain period of grace time after the laundry is done. If someone is waiting to do their laundry and all of the machines are taken, they can press the button once at any time during the cycle. Our product will then send a quick email to the user alerting them that someone is waiting to use their machine and that they should retrieve their laundry as soon as possible after its done. This is an important way that the users of our product will communicate with each other.
9. How often are the tasks performed?
– Per individual user: Anywhere from once a week to once every 3 weeks.
– Campus-wide: Frequency depends on the time of the day and the day of the week. Students tend to do their laundry in after-class hours, later at night, and on the weekends.
– It is here noted that the late night hours are often used to avoid the very problem of laundry tampering that we are trying to solve.
10. What are the time constraints on the tasks?
– Users washing their clothes have the time constraint of the laundry cycle time, plus the varying time constraint of the grace period time that is determined based on the laundry room traffic at given times or days of the week. This grace period may be determined by survey or dynamically as users use our machines.
11. What happens when things go wrong?
– When the grace period is over, our product will automatically unlock. This means that anyone can get to the current user’s laundry. This isn’t exactly “things going wrong” as the product was designed this way. This situation would be more of the user’s fault. One thing that could wrong is our product malfunctions and either: 1) unlocks when it shouldn’t and allows things to be stolen. Hopefully our code can have some fallback mechanism to at least alert the user that their laundry is no longer locked. 2) remains locked when it shouldn’t be. This is a bit more difficult to deal with as there really is no other way to fix this other than physically breaking into the lock. Thus, we must be extremely careful to not allow this to happen in our product.
Description of Three Tasks
1. Current User: Locking the machine:
– User inputs netID into locking unit keypad. This netID is used as the password for unlocking the machine, as well as the email address used to send warning messages by the locking unit (and the next user).
2. Next User: Sending message to current user that laundry is done and someone is waiting to use the machine:
– The next user waiting for the machine (when no other machines are open) can press a button at any time during the cycle. When the button is pressed (only once per cycle), our product will send an email to the current user saying that someone is waiting to use their machine after they are done and that they should go retrieve their laundry as soon as possible after it is done.
– Current Difficulty with current technology/tools: Close to impossible. There is almost no way to tell who is using which machine and just as hard to contact them even if you do know who is using it (assuming you’re not friends with that person).
– Difficulty with our Product: Easy. Literally as easy as pressing a button.
3. Current User: Unlock the machine:
– If the machine is currently locked (during the grace period), the current user must input his netID to unlock the door and extract his laundry.
– Current Difficulty with current technology/tools: Very easy. Just open the door of the machine…
– Difficulty with our Product: Easy/Moderate. The user will simply input his netID during the grace period after the wash cycle, unlocking the door and allowing him to take out his pristine, un-tampered-with laundry. The only difficulty with this step is the user forgetting, ignoring, or failing to comply with the warning messages and not unlocking the unit on time. This will result in the automatic unlocking of the door and the giving up of the laundry’s sanctity and innocence to the winds of fate.
Our system provides the user with extra security for his/her laundry and better means of communication between users. After starting the laundry machine, the user will lock it with our device by entering the NetID. Our device gives the user a short grace period after the laundry is finished. During this time, the Next User can send the Current User an email by simply pressing a button on our device, thereby notifying the Current User that there is a person waiting to use the machine. This will prompt the Current User to retrieve his/her laundry. If the Current User needs more time, he can simply reply to the email to let the Next User know when he/she will be retrieving the laundry.