What it does
How I built it
Our project was built around the arduino and a network of ultrasonic sensors. An individual ultrasonic sensor was used for each row of cans and keeps track of the distance from the back of the cooler to the closest can. The distance is used to calculate the number of cans remaining in each row and allows us to get predictive drink shortage data. We used presentation foam to mount the sensors and microprocessor and tape to anchor the mount to the back of a cooler tray.
Challenges I ran into
We initially had issues getting consistent readings. We thought the cans were perhaps causing interference, or the arduino was not delivering sufficient power to the sensors, that the sensor lines were experiencing crosstalk, that the different cans had varying reflective properties... Eventually, we determined that getting accurate readings was mostly a matter of orienting the sensors at a certain tilt and doing some calibration.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
We are most proud of the moment when our project was giving us back what we were working for all along. There were many moments of frustration, so it was nice to finally get some validation.
What I learned
Some of the members of this team learned from their teammates to become more patient in the effort of troubleshooting. Sometimes things get frustrating and we just want to rip all of our work apart and start from scratch. But that isn't always the prudent approach.
What's next for UltrasonicCounter
The UltrasonicCounter has great potential for Coke and could provide them with a good approach to remedying their current system of outage notification and introduce a new method for shortage prediction.