12 May 2021
More focus on the social impact of AI
- AI (artificial intelligence)
A Hollow Bolle Gijs on every street corner. With BrightBin, students of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) are trying to combat litter. In the same way as Holle Bolle Gijs does. The attachment for a bin gives people a small reward when they throw something away. For example, a mini-light show or a sound effect.
"A lot of people in the city, for example, have something in their hands that they eventually have to throw away," says Manon van Hastenberg, marketing manager at BrightBin. "With light and sound we try to attract the attention of these people so that waste really ends up in the trash and not on the ground". The BrightBin is made of transparent material with a light cord in it. It's an attachment that clicks around a normal bin. Via a sensor it registers whether someone throws something in. In this way the BrightBin can, for example, literally give a round of applause through sound effects.
The eternal starvation sufferer Holle Bolle Gijs from De Efteling amusement park was part of the students' research. The fairy tale tells the story of a male who is always hungry. When someone puts a piece of paper in his mouth, he immediately sucks it up. This is how De Efteling tries to keep the park clean. "The positive approach works well. Children even pick up the paper from the ground and give it to Holle Bolle Gijs", says Theys Andriesse, chairman of team BrightBin. The Efteling is proud to say that their Holle Bolle Gijs can serve as inspiration for innovation.
"We have seen that light and sound really have an impact on people," adds designer Claudia van den Boom. The students have made a prototype via TU/e innovation Space. With this, they gauged people's reactions in the city centre. "Children went there faster, but adults were also very interested," says Andriesse.
"Although Holle Bolle Gijs is especially nice because people don't come to De Efteling that often", he continues. "That's what we want to do with the BrightBin. The students will rent or sell the product to, for example, municipalities, event organisers and large cleaning companies. "They will then be able to put the wastebasket in a different place at all times, which will continue to create a wow effect. What's more, the students will be able to create a different light artwork on each BrightBin. The sound effects can also be adjusted to the wishes of a particular customer.
The first step towards that wow effect is a pilot during light festival Glow in Eindhoven. "We are allowed to put the BrightBin along the route all week long. Moreover, we can then test even more specifically what people's reaction is," says Andriesse. "We're going to make sure that the design of the light festival fixture is completely finished. Before the product is really in the public space, it first has to be made robust. "We want the top to last for a number of years, so it has to be able to withstand a lot of wear and tear.
After Glow, the students want to look at other customers. Cleaning company CSU, for example, has already shown an interest. Among other things, they are hired for the cleaning of events and holiday parks. "That's a very interesting partner for us," says the chairman. The team also wants to look at collaborations with municipalities. Van Hastenberg: "For example, the municipality of Eindhoven indicated that they find a lot of litter in parks and squares. Waste bins are often less within reach there than in the city centre. The BrightBin can play a role in these places".
Here the students can offer a competitive price. "It is estimated that a BrightBin will cost around 350 euros. A street bin, as you see everywhere, quickly costs more than a thousand euros", says Van den Boom. "There are other interactive wastebaskets, but then customers will have to replace the entire wastebasket. That's not necessary with us. All the money the team earns, they invest in the project again. "We can always look for better versions or new applications.
BrightBin is part of Enactus, a worldwide student organisation that promotes social entrepreneurship. "At the moment we are a student team. But at the end of the day, the idea is that our product will be so successful that we can turn it into a stand-alone start-up. Then it will hopefully be a profitable company, but always with the idea in mind that we are doing something good for the world", says Van Hastenberg.