Safe and Sound Wearables Design Challenge Summary



Back in February the Safe and Sound Wearables design challenge officially kicked off, marking the beginning the 2017 Design Challenge Series her at Element14, and what an interesting challenge it was. Originally slated for a fifteen week run, the Safe and Sound Wearables challenge was extended by an additional ten weeks to give some challengers who had issues receiving their official hardware kits some time to catch up.


Fourteen projects were chosen to participate, with their creators receiving an official challenger kit that contains the sponsored hardware that must be used to create their projects. The challenge was not limited to these fourteen people though, and anyone could enter their project into the challenge as long as they included Texas Instruments’ latest micro-controller (MSP-EXP432P401RMSP-EXP432P401R) into a wearable that is Safe & Sound.

Safe & Sound Design Challenge



About The Challenge



Featured as the first design challenge of 2017, the Safe & Sound Wearables challenge tasks its participants to conceive and build a 'safe and sound’ wearable that protects a person from personal and environmental risks, or monitors personal health or protects personal property from theft.


The Official Kit, and The Prizes


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On February 14th 2017 Element14 announced the list of the official 15 challengers picked to participate in the challenge, and those 15 challengers received a kit of components to use in their design which was sponsored by Texas Instruments. Each kit contains the following items:


Participation in this challenge is not limited to the sponsored challengers however. Anyone can enter, and all they have to do is Design with TI - integrating Texas Instruments’ latest microcontroller (MSP-EXP432P401R) MSP-EXP432P401R LaunchPadMSP-EXP432P401R LaunchPad into a wearable that is Safe & Sound.


The Challengers and Their Projects



The Winners


First Prize Winner: dougw

Invisible Hazardous Environmental Factors Monitoring System




Runner Up Prize Winner: dwinhold

Cold Weather Survival Suit

Honorable Mentions:


    Featured from left to right: Trackable Safety Helmet for Miners, T-Shirt for Monitoring Elderly and Physically Challenged Patients, Wearable Tracking Device for Miners and Safety Jacket for the Tolling Industry


My Top Projects


There were a few projects that I considered quite exceptional during this challenge. I do not have any set criteria that I use to determine what makes a great project, but I do look at a few key factors when determining which projects I feel are awesome. I also want to note that my opinion on which projects were the best have no bearing on the judge’s decisions, and my opinion is my own and is not the opinion of Element14. So I am going to list my three favorite projects from this challenge, and highlight my favorite update from its timeline. I would love to hear from all of my readers on which project was their favorite, and why that particular project stood out for them.


Project : Safety Jacket For the Tolling Industry - By Inderpreet Singh




First off, if you are not familiar with Inderpreet Singh (ipv1) you need to stop reading this article and head over to his profile to check out some of his content. A familiar face to the design challenge series, and someone I admire and respect quite a good bit, Inderpreet is the real deal when it comes to encompassing what a maker and engineer truly is. His project for this challenge embodied what a true wearable is, and quite frankly should be. From designing his own power pack PCB for the project, to summiting every mountain-like issue that arose, this project earned the top spot in my favorite’s for its ingenuity, engineering, and well written update post.


It’s a well known fact that when people are passionate about the things they create, those things become better overall. This is evident in Steve Jobs and his drive for form, function, and user experience in designing the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook products early on in their life. I attribute this same type of passion and drive for how well Inderpreet’s Companion Jacket turned out. If you are curious about why he was so driven to create a jacket that would help to better protect those in the tolling industry, head over to the project’s introduction post. When you are finished there, check out the project in its entirety on its blog page.



Project : Invisible Hazardous Environmental Factors Monitoring System - By Douglas Wong




Douglas Wong (dougw) is yet another Design Challenge veteran who always seems to impress not only me, but many members in the community who follow his projects with vigor. The story was no different with project Invisible Hazardous Environmental Factors Monitoring System, and personally, I feel that he knocked this one out of the park. I actually had a tough time deciding between this project, and Inderpreet Singh’s because they are both so good. While Inderpreet definitely created an amazing set of wearable devices that are part of clothing, Doug’s monitoring system is a completely independent wearable that can be placed over existing clothing. Additionally, it provides a wealth of information that is instantly visible to the wearer due to the LCD screens that accompany each of the four modules. This project, like the aforementioned sensor filled shirt was perfectly detailed throughout its construction, and I would expect nothing less from Doug.


Project : Winter Survival Suit - By Dale Winhold




This project brought back the young kid who played with “learning electronics” kits from Radio Shack in me. All those years ago, I would tinker with my spring board kit building AM Radios from schematics designed by Forrest Mimms III, and then dream about one day building a mechatronic suit that would allow me to record environmental data and relay it back to the secret base while battling an army of evil robots. (Im not kidding, I really use to daydream about stuff like that.) Dale Winhold’s (dwinhold) suit brought back a lot of memories for me, especially the wiring diagrams I use to draw showing how all of the suits sensors and weapons would connect to a central computer.


Like the other two challengers I featured in this wrap-up, Dale is no amateur when it comes to the Design Challenge series, and once again he rose to the challenge and conquered its objectives like a true professional. His update post were informative, media rich, and full of valuable information. If you have not followed Dale’s journey down the Safe & Sound path over its 25 week journey, head over to the project’s blog for the full rundown.



Complete List Of My Content On This Design Challenge


Below are links to each piece of content I wrote that pertained to this challenge.


Weekly Summaries




Final Thoughts

For many years I have all but wrote off the wearables industry as just a passing fad that will not survive without some true innovation taking place before 2020. The concept of things like smart watches, smart jewelry, and hoodies with speakers in the hood’s feel too much like novelties to me, and I have only seen a few concepts so far that really give me the WOW factor. Even the wearables projects in the maker community have been a bit bland with a few exceptions here and there. When I learned that Element14 would be hosting a wearables themed Design Challenge, my initial thought was “Yay, more blinking LEDs sewn into hats, dresses, and shoes.” but then I learned that the concept would be to challenge people to build a wearable that makes their daily life more safe and sound, which made me slightly more energetic about the idea.


I read over a few of the proposals early on and I was quite impressed and embarrassed at the same time. The embarrassment was because I was so quick to discount the original concept to blinking LEDs and trinkets. I have never been more wrong in my life. Several of the challengers who were chosen to participate in this challenge simply blew me away with the projects they conceived and then brought to fruition over those 25-weeks. I will say that some of the challengers who did not take their project’s serious enough, or abandoned them all together, truly missed out on an opportunity to show skeptics like me, that wearables can be a viable part of everyday life, and that the category is not just limited to smart watches, blinking LED wristbands at theme parks, or novelty trinkets that are limited in function.


So with that, I tip my hat to all of the challengers who left me absolutely astonished at the level of talent and intelligence we have here at Element14 who are willing to share their knowledge and tackle fairly large projects with ease. While participation slowed in the last several weeks, I want to thank those who stuck with it, and pushed through to see their project finished, or very close to finished. I look forward to reading everyone’s updates each week, and being allowed to sort of MC these challenges is truly an honor that I cherish.  With that said, I am going to end my coverage of the Safe & Sound Wearables Design Challenge here. Thank you for returning every week to read my updates, and for cheering on the challenger's time and time again! We truly are a community here at Element14, and these challenges and their participants are proof of that. I’ll be back in a few weeks when the next challenge kicks off, so until then, remember to Hack The World and Make Awesome!