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Log on to wash and dry

February 27, 2009 4:09:36 PM PST
It's one of the things that's frustrating about living in apartments or in college dorms. You have to go to the laundry room to find out if washing machines are available or if the dryer is done with your clothes. But some colleges have a way for students to find out, without going up and down a flight of stairs. As a student at Stevens Institute of Technology, Matt Fitzsimmons does not have a lot of time to do laundry, which used to be a problem.

"You see there are no washers or dryers available," says Matt. "Then you have to walk all the way back. Then you check again and maybe somebody beat you to it."

Anyone who's ever been away to college and lived in a dormitory remembers the inconvenience of going back and forth to the laundry room, looking for an available washer or dryer while you try to get your studies done. But a web-based service called "e-Suds" allows students to monitor laundry room activity from their dorm rooms. E-Suds transmits the status of each appliance. The machines are then programmed with smart cards, which double as ID cards.

"The key to success here at Stevens for the students is time management," says systems administrator James Cunningham. "So here in Information Technology we try and give them those tools to manage their time much better."

The cards are also keys for opening dorm room doors. They can pay for snacks at vending machines. Restaurants and other businesses in Hoboken accept the Stevens smart cards for payment, while the individual accounts can be managed online.

"For example, you have a birthday coming up," says student Kevin Kasper. "Your parents want to put some money on it. They can actually go online, add money to your account and you can just go and have dinner...you know...on your card."

E-Suds is now used at some colleges across the nation. The technology is setting the stage for cash-free college campuses in the future.

Web produced by Lila Corn


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