ESP-WIFI-MESH-Powered, Self-Service, Smart-Laundry Facility

Shanghai, China
Dec 29, 2020

The fruit of Espressif and Ujing’s recent collaboration is an ESP-WIFI-MESH-powered, self-service, laundry facility on campus at Jiangnan University.

Ujing originally started in 2016, as a Midea Group company, targeting the shared home-appliance industry. Since then, Ujing-branded products have equipped University campuses across China. Espressif’s recent collaboration with Ujing yielded a self-service, smart-laundry facility, powered by Espressif’s ESP-WIFI-MESH. This was recently launched on campus at China’s Jiangnan University.

The washing machines in Ujing’s smart-laundry operate via a smartphone app, where users can see which specific machines are available for use. Then, they can book one, choose the appropriate washing and drying cycles, and pay for them. The washing machines are interconnected over a 5G network which is built around either a common router or a portable Wi-Fi router (with a SIM card). Due to the power and flexibility of ESP-WIFI-MESH, only one washing machine needs to function as the root node that is connected to the router; the others can automatically join the network and achieve interconnection. This is how the washing machines effectively function like nodes in a Mesh network topology powered by ESP-WIFI-MESH.

ESP-WIFI-MESH network architecture diagram

ESP-WIFI-MESH is Espressif’s wireless communication network with nodes organized in a mesh topology that uses the AP-STA feature of Espressif SoCs. ESP-WIFI-MESH provides a self-forming and self-healing network, with ease of deployment. The network topology of ESP-WIFI-MESH can scale up to 1000 nodes in large areas, without requiring any particular Wi-Fi infrastructure support. ESP-WIFI-MESH can also be used to cover Wi-Fi blind spots in home-deployment scenarios where the Wi-Fi signal cannot be reached easily.

Espressif provides ready-to-use, yet customizable, smartphone apps that facilitate the auto-discovery of new nodes and allow their easy configuration with Bluetooth Low Energy. This method ensures that the configuration is pushed securely to the nodes at scale. ESP-WIFI-MESH enables the effective management of node groupings, since the best routing is automatically chosen for any given deployment.

More specifically, ESP-WIFI-MESH has the following advantages:

    1. Low latency: Commands via the app will prompt the connected device to respond within one second, which is much faster than what NB-IoT, 2G, and 3G networks can achieve.
    2. Expandability: the system gives access to a maximum of 1,000 nodes.
    3. Competitive price: Compared to NB-IoT, the use of ESP-WIFI-MESH does not entail any traffic-related surcharges, so the overall cost is much lower.
    4. Wide applicability: ESP-WIFI-MESH is suitable for indoor / outdoor multi-device networking applications, and for scenarios that require network coverage over large areas.

Ujing’s smart-connected washing machines were installed at Jiangnan University a couple of months ago. Since then, the washing equipment has been running flawlessly, enabling thousands of washing cycles, and making students’ lives significantly easier. In addition, these self-service washing machines support secure and reliable remote monitoring, online over-the-air upgrades, and an IP-protocol-based Access Control List (ACL) for extra connection security, thus bringing to users a truly high-tech experience.

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