The laundry room is no longer a place for college students to find dates. By swiping a card or pushing a few cell phone buttons, students can use e-Suds washing machines to pay for laundry, check machine availability and add detergent without setting foot in the laundromat. Several universities, including MIT and Boston College, are currently testing the Web-enabled washing machines.
The e-Suds machines notify students via e-mail or pager when machines are available or when their laundry is done. Students can also add detergent and fabric softener via the website. Laundromat owners can check machine performance and usage patterns online. The technology behind the machines comes from IBM and Wayne, Pa.-based payment management vendor USA Technologies, which together host websites that provide functions like payment authorization, inventory management and report generation.
So far, online laundry seems to be a hit. Ninety-five percent of the students at Boston College’s Vanderslice Hall say they would like to see this service continue. Thirty-eight percent say they are actually doing laundry more frequently. Junior Mike Joyce likes e-Suds because he can check machine availability. Although he has had some trouble logging on to the system in the past, it’s better now. “You don’t have to drag everything there when there are no free machines,” he says. Not only that. The e-Suds machines spell the end of another chore: the search for quarters.