Tag Archives: IoT

element14 Pi IoT Smarter Spaces Design Challenge

via Raspberry Pi

Earlier this year I was asked to be a judge for the Element 14 Pi IoT Smarter Spaces Design Challenge. It has been fantastic to be involved in a process where so many brilliant ideas were developed.

The purpose of the competition was to get designers to use a kit of components that included Raspberry Pi, various accessories, and Enocean products, to take control of the spaces they are in. Spaces could be at home, at work, outdoors, or any other space the designer could think of.

Graphic showing a figure reflected in a mirror as they select breakfast from a menu displayed on its touchscreen surface

Each entrant provided an initial outline of what they wanted to achieve, after which they were given three months to design, build and implement their system. All the designers have detailed their work fantastically on the element14 website, and if you’re looking for inspiration for your next project I would recommend you read through the entries to this challenge. It has been excellent to see such a great breadth of projects undertaken, all of which had a unique perspective on what “space” was and how it needed to be controlled.

3rd place

Gerrit Polder developed his Plant Health Camera. Gerrit’s project was fantastic, combining regular and NoIR Raspberry Pi camera modules with some very interesting software to monitor plant health in real time.

Pi IoT Plant Health Camera Summary

Element14 Pi IoT challenge Plant Health Camera Summary. For info about this project, visit: https://www.element14.com/community/community/design-challenges/pi-iot/blog/2016/08/29/pi-iot-plant-health-camera-11-summary

2nd place

Robin Eggenkamp created a system called Thuis – that’s Danish for “at home”, and is pronounced “thoosh”! Robin presented a comprehensive smart home system that connects to a variety of sensors and features in his home, including a keyless door lock and remote lighting control, and incorporates mood lighting and a home cinema system. He also produced some great video of the system in action.

Thuis app demo

Final demo of the Thuis app

1st place

Overall winner Frederick Vandenbosch constructed his Pi IoT Alarm Clock. Frederick produced a truly impressive set of devices which look fantastic and enable a raft of smart home technologies. The devices used in the system range from IP cameras, to energy monitors that can be dotted around the home, to a small bespoke unit that keeps track of house keys. These are controlled from well designed hubs: an interactive one that includes a display and keypad, as well as the voice-activated alarm clock. The whole system comes together to provide a truly smart space, and I’d recommend reading Frederick’s blog to find out more.

My entry for element14’s PiIoT Design Challenge

This is my demonstration video for element14’s Pi IoT Design Challenge, sponsored by Duratool and EnOcean, in association with Raspberry Pi. Have feedback on this project? Ideas for another? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks to each and every designer in this competition and to all the people in the element14 community who have helped make this a great competition to be part of. If you’re interested in taking part in a future design challenge run by element14, they are run regularly with some great topics – the prizes aren’t bad, either.

I urge everyone to keep on designing, building, experimenting and creating!

Pi IoT Smarter Spaces Design Challenges Winners Announcement

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An interactive ball for your dog’s remote entertainment

via Arduino Blog

Recently presented at Disrupt SF Hackathon 2016, this modified hamster ball rolls and dispenses treats while you’re away!

Creators Anthony Alayo, James Xu, and Lawrence Chang don’t like the idea of leaving doggies alone all day to fend for themselves. Although these companions will generally wait for their owners to get home, this surely gets boring. To help solve this problem, they built the DogeBall–a hamster ball equipped with advanced electronics including what looks to be an Arduino MKR1000. This allows it to roll around under remote control via an accompanying app, and can even give your pooch a treat, perhaps as a reward for not chewing up your shoes!

Say you’re at work and your dog has been alone for a while. If you have a nest cam or other home cameras setup, playing with him/her is easy. The app we created acts as a remote controller, connecting to the ball over the internet. Shoot your dog a treat, hit the speak button to talk with him, or control the ball as if you were right there beside him/her.

Sound like something you might want for your pup? You can check out the team’s Devpost article or TechCrunch’s writeup on this excellent project!

(Photos: Devpost)

Identifying The Hallway Whistler

via Raspberry Pi

Becky Stern suffers from that same condition that many of us apartment dwellers are affected by: a curiosity about who is making noise outside the door.

Living within a large New York City apartment, Becky wanted to be able to see out of her peep hole without having to leave her desk. After all, the constant comings and goings of any shared property, though expected, can often be distracting.

(And seriously, whoever keeps slamming their door in my apartment block at 4am WILL suffer my wrath!)

So she decided to use a motion detector to trigger a Pi camera at her door. The camera would then stream live video back to a monitor within her apartment: a wireless peep hole, allowing her the freedom to be productive without having her eye to the door.

Peep Hole Cam

Becky used a Pi Zero for the project and took to the internet to educate herself on how to code a live streaming camera with motion detection. Tony D’s Cloud Cam tutorial gave her everything she needed to get the project working… and a handful of magnets, plus an old makeup bag, finished of the job.

Pi Zero Peep Hole Camera

Tutorial: http://www.instructables.com/id/Pi-Zero-Peep-Hole-Camera/ Subscribe for new videos Mondays and Thursdays! http://www.youtube.com/user/bekathwia previous video: https://youtu.be/p7uUcNFfP3Q tech playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLxW5bBHPfdBzmynozxfEPv2DJgyoFiqgn this time last year: https://youtu.be/kZmyXzzXqfc Connect with Becky: http://www.instructables.com/member/bekathwia https://twitter.com/bekathwia http://instagram.com/bekathwia http://bekathwia.tumblr.com/ http://www.pinterest.com/bekathwia/ https://www.snapchat.com/add/bekathwia tip jar: https://www.patreon.com/beckystern Music is “Marxist Arrow” from the YouTube Music Library

Along with live streaming, the camera could be set up to take and upload photos and video to a cloud server; a handy tool to aid in home security. Taking the project further afield, she could allow remote access to the camera, allowing her to view the hallway while away from home. Did the delivery man leave your expected package? Which of the neighbours kids is the one trailing mud across the carpet?

And seriously… who keeps whistling every time they come home?!

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Internet of Voice Challenge with Amazon and hackster.io

via Raspberry Pi

Many of you have been using the Raspberry Pi as a platform for internet of things (IoT) hacking. With wired and wireless communication on board, Raspberry Pi 3 is a great platform for connecting the network, and network-accessible services, to the real world.

Where we're going, we don't need roads

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads

Voice recognition can add a whole new dimension to IoT projects. We recently showed you how to connect your Raspberry Pi to Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service to build your very own homebrew clone of the Echo voice appliance. Now, in partnership with Amazon and hackster.io, we’re giving you a chance to win Echo kit and Amazon gift vouchers by developing your own “internet of voice” projects with the Raspberry Pi.

I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission

I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission

Prizes will be awarded in two categories: best use of the Alexa Skills Kit as an integral part of the project, and best use of the Alexa Voice Service. The top prizes in each category are worth $1900, and the contest runs until the start of August. Head to hackster.io for more information, and good luck!

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Ring a bell with Node-RED and Twitter

via Raspberry Pi

This is a great beginner’s project from Red Reef Digital for those new to Node-RED. Node-RED is IBM’s browser-based, visual tool – looking just like a flow chart – for IoT programming. It seemed to come out of nowhere a couple of years ago, but it’s very easy to get your head around, and we’ve seen some great stuff done with it. (Winner? Probably the dinosaurs.)

Your instructions will end up looking like this:


The results being that you can ding a physical dinger by sending a command over Twitter.

Node-RED comes preinstalled in Raspbian Jessie, so you’ve probably got it ready to go for your Pi already.

The sales bell is a thing many businesses use as a motivational tool. The story goes that back in the Mesozoic, Amazon staff would ring a bell every time one of them made a sale. This worked well for a while, but eventually it had to be turned off, because a bell droning away constantly doesn’t make for a pleasant working environment.

(The bell approach remains much more effective than one of those Successories posters.)


For those businesses selling a human-scale number of items, and who like the motivating tinkle of the sales bell (and who doesn’t like a motivating tinkle?), this is a nice way to implement it, especially in a large office with only one bell. Users can send a message to Twitter, and the bell will tinkle. Motivatingly.


Here are Red Reef Digital to show you how.

#RingTheMorningBell for Small Business with Red Reef Digital!

We love Chase Bank’s morning bell campaign for small businesses so much that we built a Twitter-connected bell that will ring every time someone uses the hashtag #RingTheMorningBell. Powered by a RaspberryPi running NodeRED and MeshBlu.

If you’re looking for a getting-started Node-RED project, this seems a great place to begin – and it’s a project that you can start to build on and adapt very easily. (We’re thinking lights. Motors. Sirens.)

Red Reef Digital have made a neat little tutorial, with a parts list, wiring diagrams, code and step-by-step instructions. Let us know if you build this or adapt it; we’re looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

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Massimo Banzi explores the meaning of the IoT

via Arduino Blog

Back at Arduino Day 2016, Massimo Banzi explored the true meaning of the Internet of Things in a more philosophical, approachable way. During his presentation, the Arduino co-founder touched upon the current state of the industry, some guiding principles, as well as what the future may entail.

“A lot of people are trying to build products that are connected, but not a lot of stuff makes a lot of sense right now. There’s a lot of strange stuff happening. It’s the beginning of an industry,” Banzi explained. “There’s a couple of misconceptions. A lot of people tend to equate the Internet of Things with smart thermostats for your home, and it’s much more than that. The part of the IoT that right now is impacting and can impact your life the most is the least sexy one.”

You can watch the entire talk below: