Scrounging for quarters and making fruitless trips to the laundry room every few minutes to check on the status of their clothes just doesn’t wash with most college students. But these inconveniences soon could be a thing of the past, if new technology being tested by Carnegie Mellon University proves successful.

Now through May 15, Carnegie Mellon is piloting a web-based laundry system, called eSuds, in three residence halls. If all goes well, officials say, the system will be installed campus-wide in August, just in time for the 2004-05 school year.

eSuds, which was developed by USA Technologies Inc., allows students to use the internet to check whether any machines in a specific laundry room are available, and how much time is remaining on each machine’s load. Students can sign up for an eMail notification that tells them when their laundry is finished. And they won’t need quarters any more–they’ll be able to activate the machines with a simple swipe of their student ID cards.

“The whole idea is to create convenience for our students,” said Tim Michael, director of housing services for Carnegie Mellon.

The system is part of an overhaul of campus laundry services that began last year, when the university chose Caldwell & Gregory Inc. (CGI) to be its laundry service provider. As part of its contract, CGI agreed to install a web-based laundry system, and partnered with USA Technologies to bring eSuds to campus.

“Feedback from early tests indicate Carnegie Mellon students overwhelmingly welcome the convenience and simplicity of the online laundry service, and especially its efficiency,” said John Gregory, president of CGI. “The enthusiasm from students assures us that eSuds will be popular with students on campuses across the United States, and already we are in negotiations to allow CGI to quickly expand the program to more campuses in the mid-Atlantic area.”

During the pilot, about 700 students will be able to use eSuds, university officials said.

“The system is great–very convenient, time-efficient, and easy to use. The best thing? No more hassle with getting quarters,” said Stephanie Lo, a sophomore who was among the first students to try the new technology.

As part of the laundry overhaul, all campus laundry rooms have new energy-efficient washers and dryers. Each washer uses significantly less water per cycle than the university’s previous machines, campus officials said, for a reported savings of about 1.5 million gallons of water each year.

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Carnegie Mellon University

USA Technologies Inc.