Neat Intelligent Communicating Environment

NICE bins

One day, all of us will use NICE bins!

Have you ever thought about the amount of unclassified waste we produce? In Turin, 42% of the waste produced is classified.

Waste production is constantly increasing in urban areas, leading to waste abandon and untidy neighborhoods. The classification of waste is a priority to create a healthier environment and it helps to reuse and recycle what otherwise remains waste.

NICE bins tackles these issues by making the habit of waste classification easier and fun for residents and by allowing faster notification of waste abandon.

Residents receive points according to how often they use classified bins and contribute to a crowdsourcing database which shows them the right bins for the items they don’t know how to classify. Residents receive a vocal suggestion of the nearest available bin if the one they want to use is full, saving their time and preventing waste abandon. A map of the bins in the neighborhood is available to show their location and current filling.

Easier waste classification allows residents to have an active role in reducing waste in their neighborhood and the maintenance of tidy surroundings facilitates the adoption of good habits for the environment.


AmI main steps


The system senses the level of trash in the bin as well as the situation of the bins nearby. It also senses registered users’ speech.


The bin calculates the percentage of fullness of the trash bin and evaluates the situation of the bins nearby. The system understands the user’s request (speech recognition) and elaborates the correct answer according to database. The gamification system also ranks the users according to their points.


The system educates the user about the diversified harvest through the dialogue of both user and bin (e.g. User: “Where can I throw this can?” Bin: "In the glass and can bin") and throught sound and visual suggestions. The interactive platform makes use of gamification to encourage users to adopt positive behaviours regarding waste production.


It provides suggestions of the nearest available (unfilled) bins, a map of the bins and their filling level, a crowdsourcing database to consult in case of unknown classificion of items and reminders of collection days for specific bins.

AmI features

Sensitive : The system senses the level of trash in the bin and users' presence.

Responsive : The system, given user’s requests, responds to them with the requested information.

Adaptive : If the garbage bins’ positions are changed, they keep their ability to communicate with other bins.

Transparent : Residents don’t need to set up anything when they are throwing their waste and the system is hidden to them too.

Ubiquitous : The system can be used in wider areas and it's easy to use for users.

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Let's see how NICE bins work

NICE bins aims to make the neighborhood cleaner and tidier and to educate people on classification of trash by providing a fun platform with a rewarding system.

The system deals with the following main functions: it shows the situation according to filling level, location and clearness around of all the bins in the neighborhood on the app or website, it receives waste abandon notifications from registered users and trash collectors and it gamifies the use of classified bins; it gives real-time suggestions for residents to prevent them to abandon the trash outside and suggest them the closest bins if the current one is not available to be used; it educates people to care more about trash classification by the gamified system which provides also rewards and it uses a crowdsourcing database of recycling information according to the items’ barcode.

This system doesn’t involve the residents out of the neighborhood who haven’t yet registered. Besides, it doesn’t do any trash disposal and recognition or optimize the management of the trash collection company.


Registered user: people using bins that have an account

Unregistered user: people using bins that don’t have an account

Worker: waste collectors

Password: a specific word that will be used by the registered user

Green: 0% - 50% level of fullness of the bin

Yellow: 50% - 75% level of fullness of the bin

Red: 75% - 100% level of fullness of the bin



throwing their trash in the neighborhood and looking for a usable bin (80%)

Trash collectors

working in the neighborhood and checking the abandon waste in the area (20%)

Functional Area Description
1 - USR User login, registration and logout
2 - WEB & APP Public web page and app visible by any user (even not registered users) with basic functionalities for unregistered users and advanced ones for registered users
3 - NOTIF Notifications sent by the system to user devices
4 - PREFS Interface for setting user preferences
5 - BINTERF Basic interface provided on the bins to any user

Title Description Priority Hardware
1.1 Web & App interface Users are provided with a map of bins' location and their filling levels whether they are registered or not. Registered users can access to the gamification for trash classification and to the crowdsourcing database for item classification. 1 pc and/or smartphone with microphones
1.2 Sign up For registering/signup users need to choose a nickname and password and they will use a voice code every time they want to throw their rubbish to get points. 1
1.3 Workers login workers login for waste management (location map and filling levels of the bins) and waste abandoning notification. 3
Title Description Priority Hardware
2.1 Get information for bins The website and the app show the location map of the bins and the filling level of the bins in the city. 1 pc and/or smartphone
2.2 Know ranking Website shows to registered users their points and the ranking of all users 2
2.3 Send feedback Registered users can send feedback (e.g. waste abandon) to the system. 3
2.4 Item classification The website and the app are integrated with a crowdsourcing database for item classification according to its bar code. The user can scan the items’ bar code he/she doesn’t know how to classify to access the database. 3
Title Description Priority Hardware
3.1 Notify the levels The system notifies the users if they reach a new level and get rewards to encourage them to continue. 3 pc and/or smartphone
3.2 Notify the dates to users The system notifies the user about waste collection dates to engage her/him in the waste collection game. 5
3.3 Notify the situation to collectors The system notifies the collectors about filling levels of bins and abandoned trash reportings. 3
Title Description Priority Hardware
4.1 Notifications control Users can set if the notification mute or not, shown on the main interface or not 5 pc and/or smartphone
4.2 Social Networks sharing Users can decide to share or not on their social networks the new levels, rewards they get, etc. 4
Title Description Priority Hardware
5.1 Sense user approaching The bins sense if a user is approaching and activates the system. 1 pir sensor and arduino
5.2 Suggest other bins The bins suggest users the next closest bins of the same type if they are full themselves or they sense abandoned waste. 1 speaker and LED light, raspberry and arduino
5.3 Sense interior situation The bins sense the filling level inside them according to space. 3 Raspberry, arduino and ultrasound sensor at the top of it
5.4 Show filling levels The bins show their filling level. 1 Raspberry, arduino, LED ligh
5.5 barcode scan Users can scan items’ barcode to get the right classified bin. 3 raspberry, camera for raspberry
5.6 Speech recognition The bins recognize the password to give registered users the points. 1 Raspberry and microphone
# Category Area Description
1 Product Efficiency NICE bins is able to reply in real time and it works in a neighborhood range. The system occupies little space in the bin which it is integrated to.
2 Product Reliability The crowdsourcing database may lead to some wrong information for classification that cannot be checked instantaneously.
3 Product Portability NICE bins is available on smartphones (Android), tablets and PCs.
4 Organizational Implementation Every bin in the neighborhood has to be equipped with NICE bins system. Every resident has to receive his own code for voice recognition and register to NICE bins. system
5 External Interoperability Using NICE bins system trash collectors and registered users notify abandoned waste to the company which takes care of its collection. NICE bins app uses the map of the bins’ location provided by waste management company and the crowdsourcing database for classification of trash
6 External Legislative In order to guarantee users’ privacy, NICE bins provides them with a code for speech recognition related only to their residence and their e-mails for registration.

System architecture


“central” - server on a remote computer: it communicates directly with the master bin (generic one) through the bin interface, it manages app interface and it retrieves information from the crowdsourcing database and the master bin.

“distributed” - master bin (generic one): it communicates with the central server and with the slaves bins (paper, can & glass, organic and plastic). It manages the sensors and actuators in the master bin and in the slave bins. 4 slave bins: each slave bin performs the queries made by the master bin on its own sensors and actuators.

“mobile” - user’s smartphone: it communicates with the central server to retrieve information about items’ classification and to run the gamification system.

1 raspberry pi placed in the master bin to compute the information received by the sensors and to give instructions to the actuators

1 arduino in the master bin and in each slave bin to control the sensors and actuators

1 proximity sensor in the master bin and slave bins to sense user’s proximity and abandoned trash

1 ultrasound sensor in the master bin and slave bins to sense filling level

1 microphone in the master bin to sense user’s speech

1 speaker in the master bin to give voice suggestions to the users

1 beeper in the slave bins to point users the correct bin to use

1 led light in the master bin and slave bins to show filling levels of the bins according to color

1 switch in the master bin and slave bins to understand if they are open or closed

user’s smartphone and computer to join the waste classification game and ask suggestions to classify items and see the bins’ location map

If the bin is full, give suggestion to the nearest unfilled bin.

Software Purpose Location
Database Three databases store bin id along with the information of closest bins to it, the filling level of the bins and their location respectively. central
Text To Speech Changing location text to voice central
LED controller Show filling level of every bin with different colors bin

Get game points if you throw rubbish into sorted rubbish bin.

Software Purpose Location
Database A database is used for storing users' ID, voice code and registration information. Another one stores points received by the users. central
Speech recognition Change voice to text for user's login and to retrieve user’s information bin
Instapush Send game points and waste collection dates to user and it is connected to the central database smartphone

On Google Map it shows the filling level and location of every bin.

Software Purpose Location
Data visualization The residents and garbage collectors can see filling level and location of every bin on map while garbage collectors can adjust the number and location of bins according to statistics. central

Central server: world-accessible public IP address

Database: connected to central server by gateway

Website connected to center server by local gateway

Master bin of each group of bins: using wifi to connect to google APIs

Slave bins connected with each other and master bins by wifi.

Phones connected to local wi-fi or to 3G network . Connects to central server, only.

Selected components

Hardware Components

1 Raspberry Pi 1 ultrasonic sensor
5 movement sensors photovoltaic panels for powering the system
5 LEDs
5 arduino boards
5 USB Microphones for Raspberry Pi
5 proximity sensors for Raspberry Pi
5 USB power bank
5 Breadboard

For programing we make use of Python and java (mostly for android application):

1. For database we use SQLite3 to connect Python.

2. For data visualization we use Google Map JavaScript API connected to database

3. For speech recognition we use Alexa API to change text to voice.

4. We make use of SSH to connect NICE bins to main server.

5. Instapush version 1.0.7

Our Group Members


Chen Yun

Designer & App Developer


Francesco Medina

Hardware Developer


Ma Qiang

Software Developer


Taha Zafar

Software Developer


Xileny Seijas Portocarrero

Hardware Developer