Whenever you get takeout or coffee, using a single use container is the only option. The single use, linear economy is not sustainable and I wanted to change that with a reusable item share system.
What it does
ZERO is a borrowing system that can be implemented securely anywhere, without fear of losing any items. To use the machine, you use the app to request a certain number of items. Then, it will allow you to take the items which are then stored under your username in order to prevent people from not returning the items. Removing items without using the app beforehand will cause the machine to make a sound until it is put back (It's a minor security system intended to prevent theft).
How I built it
I used some old pipe shelving and cardboard to build the machine and we've set it up with a Raspberry Pi, and many ultrasonic sensors that are used to calculate the number of objects in a certain row. It is all handmade. I burnt myself a couple of times :)
Challenges I ran into
The challenge that hindered our performance on the project the most was making a connection between Flutter and the Raspberry Pi. The soldering was also very difficult.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I am proud of the way I'm so glad that I got so much done! I finished the entire hardware! All I have to do to make this hit a real market is to finish the flutter app.
What I learned
I learned a lot of Flutter. How to use a raspberry pi. How to make the Raspberry Pi communicate to the Arduino. How to connect the Ultrasonic sensors to every micro controller.
What's next for Zero
We plan to create a bigger shelf with more reusable times available. For instance, collapsible take-out boxes, metal straws, reusable utensils, and reusable bags. Also, instead of using regular plastic reusable items, we could even use bioplastic reusable items. Our current shelf prototype was created to be small for demonstration purposes. We plan to have a selection of self sizes which will be bigger and more robust. The current prototype design is customizable so each business owner can easily have a custom self for their location. This is key as each location will have different demands in terms of space and consumer base. With a PCB (or even with the Raspberry Pi we have with the current prototype) we can make the Zero’s hardware be the smart center of the location it is in. For example, at a cafe, Zero’s screen and onboard computer can function as a thermostat, music player, server and even a Google Assistant. With the PCB or Raspberry Pi, there are many features we can add with ease. These features along with the boast of being “green” will make it more intriguing for businesses to adopt Zero especially when it will be free of cost to them. On the software side, we plan on having a major update on the app where you can find out where the closest Zero is along with a better U.I. On the software side of the PCB/Raspberry Pi, we plan to further improve the U.I. and optimize the program so it can process transactions faster. All in all, we have a lot in mind for improvement.