Every student does laundry. At least we hope they do. It's a remedial, albeit necessary, chore that will forever be a component of daily life. On campus, however, students not only face long wait times but also the challenge of finding an open machine and returning to retrieve their clean clothes before someone else removes it for them.
The University at Buffalo is attempting to eradicate these issues in its campus laundry rooms with a new mobile app that enables students to reserve washers and dryers. According to a release from the university's official website, Buffalo's card vendor, CBORD helped to deliver the app. Starting April 10, washers and dryers at select residence halls will be switching to a laundry system backed by CBORD Mobile ID and laundry readers.
Buffalo received the Visionary Award at CBORD's 2014 User Group Conference for enhancing its campus card system with mobile availability, and the laundry machine app seems to be another example of this vision.
The app will allow students to search for available washers and dryers, view wait times for each machine and reserve machines from their phone or computer. The system will then anonymously alert previous users via text or email when their laundry is ready for removal or when machines become available.
Once a student enters the Mobile ID location number for the laundry machine they wish to use, they swipe the card icon across the phone's screen on the app and their machine becomes activated.
As is typically the case in a dorm setting, students will leave their laundry in machines and go do other things while they wash. The problem with this is that students often find their clothes balled up on top of machines to make way for other students that need to use the machines.
One of the hopes for the new app is to cut down on this issue, as well as clothing theft -- another common issue at Buffalo and other universities -- as students will be able to view laundry machine statuses in advance rather than lug their clothes down and be disappointed when there are no machines available.
The first come, first served method of laundry is certainly frustrating at times, but the caveat with a mobile app is that, without widespread adoption, it will be difficult to accomplish a solution.
The concept of reserving washers and dryers only works when all students are aware of the machines' statuses, and know when to report to the laundry room to clean their clothes. Part and parcel to app's adoption will be the need to upgrade all university laundry facilities so that more machines support the reservation app.
Nonetheless, college students remain the best early adopters of these types of apps, particularly if it simplifies a droll task like doing laundry.