Tourism in Sri Lanka has been growing rapidly. Even though the pandemic has caused a great deal of harm to the industry at the moment, if we recall the past records, for centuries the industry has been growing and is continuing to do so. Moreover, it has been a popular place of attraction for foreign travellers. As per the 2016 tourism data, the number of arrivals have surged to a new limit of over 2 million. Since it consists of one of the World Heritage sites, rainforests and national parks with some rare species and loads of beaches packed within such a small area, tourists in Sri Lanka heads straight to these places upon arrival. Just like any other country, tourists face a few major common problems during their tour, the main one being carrying their huge luggages and other items wherever they go.
All the sites that all tourists plan on visiting are scattered throughout the country and carrying luggages wherever they go is a very exhausting thing to do. For example, Sigiriya rock, which is also known as the 8th wonder of the world is an ancient rock fortress that is open for locals and tourists and is more than 600ft tall. Another example is Sri Padaya, which is more than 7000ft tall and has more than 5500 steps to climb and is also frequently visited. Few more examples are, Hikkaduwa beach where many tourists go to enjoy themselves, Hanthana mountain which is mainly visited for hiking, etc.
So one main thing with these sites is that they are far away from the hotels that the tourists choose to stay or the most common one, they choose to keep travelling because more than one site could be visited within a day. Since they have to travel constantly, in most cases tourists have to rent a hotel room for only keeping their luggages until they are done with their tour in that particular area which is a really expensive way to go. Also, some tourists tend to keep their luggages in temporary places, and these places have disadvantages in terms of safety and pricing. On the other hand, in case they weren’t able to find a safe and a fair priced place to keep the bags, they would have to carry the luggages unnecessarily which is a waste of energy and time.
In simple terms, the solution we came up with for the aforementioned problems is a "smart cabinet". Users have to install the mobile app to their phone from the play store or app store and register themselves to create a new account. With this app, users are able to view places where the cabinets are available and get insights about how many cabinets are free for hiring, the charges, etc. Tourists can hire a cabinet/s for a particular time, by number of days and pay accordingly. Cabinets will be placed in major tourist places where they will have trouble carrying the luggages. The interesting thing about this cabinet is, when a person hires a cabinet, a random password will be provided, or set by the user so only that particular person is able to access it. Once a user hires a cabinet, he/she is charged for one day and in case the user doesn't release the cabinet within 24 hours and if the time exceeds, the user will be charged for the second day and won't be unlocked until their payment is done. At the point of the cabinet, users can identify their box by the unique ID and each cabinet consists of a keypad for the users to enter the password. Once the user correctly enters the password, the cabinet will be opened. After keeping their belongings inside the cabinet users can lock it to prevent unauthorized access. In case of any attempt to access the cabinet the user will be notified instantly via the mobile app. All the communications that happen between the mobile app and the cabinet is done via an IoT cloud platform.
As per the tourism data, if we consider the rate at which tourists visit some sites, it shows that the rate is increasing rapidly each year. So the most common thing tourists bring with them are their luggages. Some tourists bring their full camera kit, some bring their small luggages with them and some bring other items that are important to them. But most of the items they bring is not because they need them to reach the site but just because they need it to be kept in a self place and that is, with themselves. When we analyze the current locker systems. They are not reliable at all because they're either made of poor materials, the locks are broken, etc. Most of the lockers that exist for the public to use are opened/ closed with keys and can be easily broken into. That’s when our customer got the idea to integrate IoT technology to a locker.
A prototype locker was made in order to store some keys and the testing was carried out. After keeping the keys inside, the passcode was generated to test out the locking mechanisms. Applying the passcode opened the locker and the base requirements were complete. The technologies used in the product are magnetic door lock using sensors, android/ ios application for the hiring process of a cabinet and also a GSM module for the connection between the lock and the application.
Minimum Viable Product
After we obtained successful output from the prototype testing, we moved onto creating a minimum viable product. The mobile app was created here on the second stage. The mobile app was created to perform the basic tasks we needed it to do like generating passcode, alarming when unauthorized access was attempted, etc. Our goal was to create both hardware and the software, as simple as possible so the end user can have a hassle free experience. The testing part for the cabinet was also done by the customer at our office building.
After the product was ready for commercialization there were some mobile app improvements to be done.
After all the testing phases and successful positive output, the smart cabinet was launched at Sigiriya, as a beta launch after talking to several shop owners we deployed a smart cabinet so that the tourists can have their luggages and other valuable items safely stored. Just after the first beta launch the pandemic struck and as the tourism industry is dormant at the moment around the world and also in Sri Lanka, several market analysis has been carried out in order to deploy these cabinets throughout the country from coastal areas through upcountry while the island recovers from it.
By using this smart cabinet system tourists can avoid a few main problems. With the aid of the cabinet and it’s mobile app, users won’t have to worry about the safety of their luggages because they very well know that no one can access their cabinet without their passcode and that the mobile app provides instant notifications in case someone attempts to open the cabinet. Moreover, users are able to keep their luggages more closer to the site they visit. Furthermore, users will have to spend a very small amount for the cabinet compared to booking a whole hotel room just for keeping the luggages and for not staying. Tourists need not waste time in searching for places to keep the luggages when they can use the mobile app to find locations of cabinets and whether there are any free slots available. Most importantly, they can tour more and enjoy more without having to worry about their luggage’s safety and their money with the smart cabinet.