Tap to Watch Video of The Automated Hand Washing Dispenser.
As the nation and the whole world are quarantined, the brains to think beyond normal capacity has been witnessed in various individuals including students of Islamic University In Uganda.

During this pandemic, the president of the republic of Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was once quoted saying, “The pandemic has its opportunities” and called upon Africans to stop depending on imported goods. This as if was in plans of members of The Motion Analysis Research Laboratory (MARL) at Islamic University In Uganda that in no time positively responded to President and developed an Automated Hand Washing Dispenser in a bid to prevent the spread of the Corona virus pandemic.

The Automated Hand Washing Dispenser is a machine that help user clean hands without any direct physical contact with it or the tap.

Dr. Umar Yahya told us that they were motivated to undertake such a great project by The current COVID-19 pandemic.

“The idea is about using technology to further minimize any contact with potentially infected surfaces during the sanitization/Handwashing process”, Dr. Umar said while adding that they tasked themselves and thought of a way to draw water without having to open and close the taps since they(taps) are also potentially infected surfaces.

Dr.Umar Yahaya.

We were also interested in knowing how the machine works and we learnt that this this Automated Hand Wash Dispenser was designed for two categories of users as explained by Dr. Umar.
“For those that use soap and water separately or those that do prior mixing of the disinfecting agent with water, we have only automated the water dispensing process. But for those that can afford liquid soap and don’t want to mix all the water with the disinfecting agent, we have also developed a separate soap dispenser for them. The tap opens when hands are in close enough proximity with the dispenser, and closes when hands are moved away.”

This hand washing dispenser is special because of the portable technology embeded in to be fitted on any water supply (Jerrican, Tank, Tin, etc) according to users’ demands/preference.

The dispensing mechanism also minimizes water wastage as the user only draws the exact amount of water needed to wash their hands. Additionally, a solar recharging mechanism is enabled for use in outdoor settings.

MARL Research Assistants during NCHE Exhibition.

The mechanism involves a dispensing technology which to built to fitted on any water container
(jerrycan, tin or tank).
According to the inventors, This technology is an integration of various low-cost sensors and a microcontroller. “The system can be powered directly, or by batteries or using a solar panel depending on use setting
(i.e indoor or outdoor)”, Dr. Umar added.

Its reported that the first complete prototype is being used currently at the University’s Kampala based Campus in Kibuli.

The team told The Campus Torch that they are working on producing six(6) more to be mechanisms of the same that will be used by the university campuses’ communities in Mbale, Arua, Kabojja, and Kibuli.

However, according to the team’s Scaling plans, The team is seeking funding partnership to enable them scale out and produce more which can even be used after/beyond this pandemic.

“We would be happy if the government could come
in to support the scaling of this product which has use cases in public spaces, schools, offices, and homes”, a team member added.

According to our discussions with the MARL team, we were informed that The unit production cost is about 90,000UGX(25$) and 155,000 UGX(42$) for automating water dispensing and both water and soap respectively.

“This excludes the water container cost which is determined by usage demand or user preference. With mass production, the unit production cost could significantly go low,” Dr. Umar clarified.

The implementation team also shared The Campus Torch the genesis of the idea. “This idea was conceived and implemented at the University’s Motion Analysis Research Laboratory (MARL). Implementation of this project was by lead student Mwaka Lucky and Mansoor Muhammad, Research Assistants at MARL.”

Motion Analysis Research Laboratory (MARL) is the University’s Research and Innovations laboratory located at the Islamic University In Uganda’s Kampala Campus in Kibuli.
This Laboratory according to a report, was established in May 2019 and its mission is to continuously leverage sensing technologies and artificial intelligence in the design and development of feasible innovative solutions to real societal problems.

The projects currently focus on four themes that include;

  1. Assistive Wearable Frameworks for the physically disabled.
  2. Autonomous indoor and outdoor assistants.
  3. Real-Time Environment Monitoring Systems. and
  4. Wearable Monitoring frameworks for children and the elderly.

The automated handwashing dispenser according to the above, is under the category of autonomous indoor and outdoor assistant.

The Lab has been able to transfer the skill set required to build such systems through an education programme we call RII(Research and Innovation Internship) programme.

The Research Innovation Internship(RII) programme is a 16 weeks intensive programme through which interns receive hands-on problem-based training in the design and deployment of Intelligent Internet of Things Solutions.

Dr. Umar informed us that this programme is open to the general public and is currently offered
at no cost with the support of the University.

Since the project is housed in a University,
MARL therefore aims at having a threefold output for each of its projects. i.e Publications contributing to the existing body of knowledge, near-industry grade products with potential for commercialization, and knowledge and technology transfer through its academic programmes.

It is also believed that eight(8) other innovative solutions which include,

  1. An Autonomous Greenhouse System with Remote Visualization,
  2. An Autonomous Floor Cleaner,
  3. A real-time pothole mapping agent,
  4. A wearable monitoring framework for children in outdoor environments,
  5. a wearable monitoring framework for the elderly in indoor environments,
  6. A wearable walking guide for the blind and deaf,
  7. A biometrics-based anti-impersonation system for examinations management, and
  8. a system for detection of leakages
    and water overflow in indoor water systems have all been developed by MARL.

More about MARL and some of its completed projects can be accessed at https://marlworks.net.

About Dr. Umar Yahya.

Dr. Umar Yahya is a PhD holder and a Senior Lecturer of Computer Science at the University’s Faculty of Science.
He is the Head, Motion Analysis Research Laboratory (MARL) at Islamic University in Uganda, Kampala Campus

For more info, Email Dr. Umar Yahya at umar@iuiu.ac.ug



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