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IIT Kharagpur Invents Low-Cost Dirt Detector That Alerts Authorities When a Place Needs Cleaning

Beneficial towards maintaining the sanitation of public facilities that are cleaned only in fixed intervals, the device can help curb the use of water, harmful cleaning agents and even labour by raising alerts only when need arises.

Researchers of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, have achieved another feat by innovating a low-cost dirt detector that will soon open up the possibility of keeping public facilities clean and hygienic at all times.

Reportedly, the device can be placed at places where cleanliness needs to be monitored on a regular basis.The smart hygiene monitor (SHM) can record the levels of ammonia, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter with the help of sensors. It also sends online alerts to stakeholders as and when the prognostic threshold gets crossed.

This will be a boon for maintaining hygiene at public facilities like toilets, hospitals, eating joints, parks, railway stations, and airports that are cleaned only once in a while.

The research team behind the development of the device was headed by Aurobinda Routray, a professor in the Electrical Engineering department of the institute.

Source: Wikimedia.

While explaining how the implementation of the device will be significant towards reducing water, harmful cleaning agents, and even labour, Aurobinda said that the authorities will only be alerted for cleaning the premises when the need arises.

“This monitor using sensors detects the level of hygiene in a room and through cloud sends data to the stakeholders,” he told The Economic Times.

Aurobinda also mentioned that the installation cost for a 20sq. ft. area would amount up to ₹5,000.

While the device has been created with a sensor-embedded platform that is connected via Internet of Things (IoT), the threshold level in each sensor has been fixed as per the deemed air quality index levels set by SAFAR-India (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research).

“Once these threshold levels are exceeded, an email alert will be sent via the cloud to the administrative office indicating the room condition as well as the need to clean it. Simultaneously, an alert will be sent to the concerned cleaning person stating the location of the room that needs to be cleaned,” Aurobinda explained.

Additionally, for each room equipped with the facility, a data analytics report featuring the real-time levels of pollutants will be available online and will be accessible for concerned authorities.


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Equipped with light indicators, the model will help users remain up-to-date about the cleanliness status of the room. Like a traffic signal, the green light would indicate ‘clean space’ while red would imply that the space requires cleaning.

“Often in the metro airports or malls, you will find that cleaners mechanically go on cleaning toilets and other areas at stipulated intervals, even on low footfall days. This not only results in wastage of water and other cleaning resources, but also leads to overuse of cleaning chemicals, which have environmental ramifications. By using this solution in such places can reduce wastage,” Aurobinda added.

Currently, a lab prototype of SHM will undergo multiple levels of field trials that will help evaluate its efficiency.

You can reach out to Aurobinda Routray at aroutray@ee.iitkgp.ernet.in .

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Written by Lekshmi Priya S

Shuttling between existentialist views and Grey's Anatomy, Lekshmi has an insanely disturbing habit of binge reading. An ardent lover of animals and plants, she also specializes in cracking terribly sad jokes.