No one likes having to use a public bathroom and then touch all the hardware between the toilet and the sink. Even after the sink, you are not safe from the dirtiness. This is a health and well-being product that will help reduce the spread of germs by limiting the surfaces you come into contact with in these public spaces.
What it does
It is a capacitive sensor built into a tile that would be embedded in the floor of a bathroom stall. As you touch it with your foot the door will latch shut so you do not need to touch the dirty handle. For the people who do not want to use this product, the standard door latch is unchanged so you can still open and close it by hand. As soon as you are done "taking care business" you step on the floor tile one more time to unlatch the door and you are free to go to the sink to wash your hands... all without touching the dirty surfaces of the stall. More additions can be added to this product such as the toilet will only flush after the door is opened. Self-flush toilets already exist however they have many drawbacks such as flushing at the most inopportune times. Other products are already made in this space to open the main door of the bathroom with your foot so that means that with this product it is possible to never have to touch a dirty surface in the public bathroom ever again.
How we built it
With previous knowledge of capacitance sensing technology coming up with a clever solution to this problem we used a 12 key capacitive sensor to read the "touch of the tile". Some clever math was involved in figuring out the latch mechanism. By using 3D printers we were able to make a mock-up bathroom stall door lock and a prototype of the capacitive tile that would be embedded into the floor.
Challenges we ran into
Some of the challenges we faced were getting the difference between the "open" and "closed" states of the bathroom stall latch. A fix to this was to add in the feature of having the person being able to open the stall on their own. Another issue is getting the measurement of the "fork" that is attached to servo the right size in order to allow the standard functionality of the bathroom stall. There were no other major issues with this project.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Making to the finish line and delivering a project on time that meets some of the challenges given to use. As this is our first MLH Hackathon, we had a wonderful time.
What we learned
Time management is a biggie. If the team members all did not pull their weight this would have never gotten done.
What's next for Flush No More
Working on a more polished final version for this product when we return to our university will be one of the first things we do. With more tools at our disposal, an even better product can be made. This project has the potential to be scaled up to become a profitable product.