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A 12-year-old by from Nanning, China recently won first prize at a regional science and innovation contest for creating an automatic clothes drying rack that retracts whenever it detects rain and extends again when the sky clears. The ingenious contraption impressed a lot of people, but it was the inspiration behind it that really got people talking.
Lu Jiezhen, a sixth-grade student at North-East Women’s Education Center in, Nanning, China’s Guangdong Province, came up with the idea for the automatic rain-detecting drying rack after being yelled at by his mother. One day, she had to leave the house and asked him to look after the clothes she had hung out to dry, reminding him that he was to take them inside in case it started to rain. Needless to say, the 12-year-old started playing around the house and forgot to pick up the clothes when the rain inevitably came. When his mother returned, she found the clothes soaking wet, and scolded him for disobeying her. But instead of finding excuses, Lu started thinking about a solution that would make his forgetfulness irrelevant in the future.
The clever sixth-grader ran the idea of an automatic clothes drying rack by his father and several of his teachers, all of whom agreed to help him build it. They all worked on it for several months, and earlier this month they unveiled a functional version at the 34th Guangxi Provincial Youth Science and Technology Innovation Contest. The judges were so impressed that they awarded the 12-year-old first prize.
Lu’s invention features built-in sensors that detect rain drops and retract the rack under a water-proof tarp to keep them dry. But it’s actually a lot smarter than that. This thing also comes with a light-sensitive sensor, so when the sky clears and the sun shines again it retracts the tarp and re-extends the drying rack. According to Sinchew, the automatic rack can even measure the wetness of the clothes and retract under the tarp when they are completely dry.
The smart drying rack is still just a prototype and Lu has no plans to work on a commercial version in the near future, but he’ll probably just give this functional unit to his mother just so he doesn’t have to take of the laundry when she is away.