Overflowing garbage bins have become a huge concern in urban populations, becoming a breeding place for germs and bad smell. Traditionally, cities operate on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to pick up trash and recyclables on designated days, regardless of whether the containers are full or not. This project will help cities save money, smell better and be more safe.

What it does

When the trash can becomes full, it sends an alert to the user, letting them know its has reached full capacity. With the use of IBM Bluemix Cloud and the expansion of the IoT, this can be done remotely.

How I built it

We used an ultrasonic sensor, which detects the distance of an object from it. Our trash can has a height of 30 cm, we placed the sensor on the roof of the can, so it starts off with a distance of 30 cm. As we fill the can with garbage, the distance becomes less and less, until it reaches very close to zero, at which point the can sends an alert.

Challenges I ran into

1) The sensor was very sensitive. A small movement of the can would cause the values to alter.

2) By placing the sensor of the roof, we had to make an opening on the side, to throw trash in, this is not really ideal for a garbage can, so if we were to proceed with this, the overall design would definitely have to be redesigned.

3) We had quite a bit of trouble connecting to the IBM Bluemix to upload our data.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

We actually have a working prototype and manged to get all the hardware to work. We also managed to connect the device to the IBM Watson cloud.

What I learned

I learned a lot about how the IoT works and how data can be much more accessibly using the internet as a platform. I learned how to use the IBM Cloud and IBM Watson. I also learned how to use the ESP8266 Adafruit module and connect it to wifi.

What's next for Smart Trash Can

The smart trash can is the garbage can of the future. With some improvements, redesigning the physical design to be more user friendly and accessible and using a better quality sensor, the Smart Trash Can has the potential to become a household item in every city around the world.

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