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Trashing the old way of doing things

ASU engineering grad student to pitch smart garbage cans at Innovation Open

Surya Iyer ASU entrepeneur smart trash bins
January 25, 2018

The abode of Oscar the Grouch has joined the 21st century.

Does the trash need to go out? Typically this question is solved by lifting the lid and saying, “Nope” or “Yep.” Extend the question to a six-story office building. Now that solution takes most of a night, a night where not much else is getting accomplished other than peeking in trash cans.

Now a startup led by an Arizona State University engineering graduate student is taking the waste out of waste management with “smart” trash bins.

Hygiea is one of five finalists selected for the 2018 ASU Innovation Open on Feb. 2, where five teams of collegiate entrepreneurs will battle it out for $100,000 in seed money.

Hygiea has created a smart sensor (they call it the Hything) which can be mounted on any kind of trash bin. The sensors detect how much trash is in the can and send the information to a dashboard that can be accessed with any internet-connected device.

Hygiea trash can sensor

The hyTHING monitors the level of content in individual trash receptacles and communicates with the hyVIEW app. The custodial staff then knows when the can needs to be picked up, thereby saving time and resources by not having to pick up nearly empty or half-filled cans, and saving customers from having overflowing containers.

“What we are trying to do is make waste management efficient, so it is more focused towards the janitorial space where you have all your workers coming to collect your trash cans on an hourly basis or every three hours,” said business development manager Surya Iyer, who is pursuing a master’s degree in management of technology. “With our sensors, if you are the head of janitorial services for this building, you could see on your mobile that, OK, this trash can is full and you can ask your janitor to go and collect it. It’s more about making the network more efficient at this moment.”

Hygiea has won tens of thousands of dollars in funding in a number of entrepreneurial competitions.

“Hygiea is working to eliminate waste from waste management,” Iyer said. “We are trying to create value for institutes and campuses.”

2018 ASU Innovation Open

When: 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2. 

Where: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, 7575 E. Princess Drive.

Admission: Attendance is free, but registration is required. Register here.


The finalists in Friday's pitch competition are ASU teams HoolestAirGarage and Hygiea, and two MIT teams: Bloomer HealthTech and W8X. 

Top photo: Management of technology graduate student Surya Iyer and his partners will be competing in the final round of the ASU Innovation Open for a $100,000 grand prize. Hygiea, named after the Greek goddess for cleanliness, features a pod that attaches to commercial waste baskets. The volume of content is monitored, allowing cleaning staff to empty it only when it's full. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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