Servicing all of the bathrooms in a large building can be a daunting task, and not just because of the cleaning aspect. Custodians also have to check the levels of things like toilet paper and soap, which can take up a lot of time and energy. It was with this in mind that Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits teamed up with CWS-boco International, to create the automated CWS Washroom Information Service.

Here's how it works …

The proprietary toilet paper, soap and cotton towel roll dispensers all contain sensors which keep track of their fill levels. Optical sensors are used in the first two types of dispensers, while portion meters monitor how far along the towel rolls are.

Each dispenser uses Bluetooth 4.0 LE to transmit its status to the closest Washroom Control Unit (WCU), a communication node that is linked to others like it via a building-wide wireless network. The combined data from all of the WCUs is subsequently forwarded via cellular network to CWS-boco's server.

After the data is processed, it's transmitted back to the building. There, a list of dispensers requiring attention could appear on a chief custodian's computer, on individual employees' tablets, or even on displays mounted on the wall beside each bathroom.

The system is reportedly quite flexible, allowing other types of sensor-equipped receptacles (such as waste bins, for example) to be added as needed. It will be tested in a pilot project within the first quarter of the year, with commercialization expected to follow soon after.

Source: Fraunhofer

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