App-solute Essentials in Tembusu (Part 2)

In this two-part series, we speak to the brains behind tApp, Misty and tLaundry. Today, Sylvester Chun, a second-year Computer Engineering student, shares his team’s experience creating tLaundry (@tlaundrybot).

The team comprises Sylvester; Kevin Chan (Year 2, Computer Science); Lester Tan (Year 4, Computer Science); Sriram Sami (Year 4, Computer Science); Sim Da Yang (Year 3, Electrical Engineering); and Ong Ka Shing (Year 4, Computer Science).

Can you explain what your app does? What is it about and what does it aim to achieve?

Our app aims to provide a seamless experience for Tembusians doing their laundry by minimising congestion during peak periods. It provides the status of the laundry machines through a website and a Telegram bot. With this, people can be notified whenever their laundry is done.

What inspired you to create this app?

After years of passing down of this project by seniors, we finally found a cheap and reliable solution to detect the status of the washing machine after it was upgraded. I made a simple prototype immediately after an intense discussion one night in the level 8 lounge and tested it that night. After we saw that it worked, we were filled with excitement and went ahead without hesitation.

What were some challenges you and your team faced along the way?

Even though we had a rough idea of what was to be done, we had no prior experience of wiring up hardware sensors to machines. There were unexpected hurdles which caused the sensors and software to fail numerous times during the testing phase.

And what motivated you to carry on?

We saw the end product in our minds. We knew that with this up, there won’t be as long of a queue on Sunday and Monday nights when the laundry rooms are at their peak, with fewer people forgetting about their laundry while they’re doing it.

What has been your favourite memory from this whole process?

Spending 4 hours in the sweltering heat as the dryers were on to lay down the initial wires for the sensors while having sips of teh cino ais from Amaans.

What are your plans for this app? Where do you see it in the future?

The current hardware design on level 9 is our final working prototype. We plan to upgrade it during the December winter break to make it more resistant to wear and tear. Besides this, we will be fixing up the laundry room on level 17 too. Volunteers who wish to learn about this are welcome to help. Just approach any of us. As for the future of this idea, it has limited scalability as our constraints are not present on an industrial scale. Should we have access to the machines’ internals, I believe that the seniors would have done it years ago.

What advice do you have for others who are similarly interested in app design?

Never be afraid to start even though it seems daunting. Help will be available to you as long as you ask.

What is one thing you want Tembusians to know about you?

I’m just an individual that loves to push boundaries.

What is your take on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the government’s Smart Nation push?

We believe moderation is key – the push for installing Internet-connected technology everywhere that would make our lives easier should be carefully balanced with maintaining privacy for all users.

Pictures by Sylvester Chun and Jonathan Lee


About the author 

Jonathan is a second-year student from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Sociology. He is interested in literature, politics, language, time and memory. Some of his favourite authors include Dickens, Orwell, Ishiguro and Kundera. You probably haven’t seen him before: he’s usually firmly ensconced in his room.