The Challenge


Before I get into the reason for this post, let's take a moment and talk about what this design challenge was all about. The Pi IoT Smarter Spaces Design Challenge was the second official design challenge of 2016, and tasked its contestants, and anyone else who wishes to participate, to create a command center to control all the IoT devices in their favorite space - the entire home, a work space, a media room or even an outdoor space. More information can be found at the challenge's official Terms and Conditions page.


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 thirteen people though, and anyone can enter their project into the challenge, but they were also required to use a Raspberry Pi 3Raspberry Pi 3 in their design along with some of the other sponsored items that are included in the official Challenger Kit. More information can be found on the kit in this post outlining all of the hardware the challengers received.


The Prizes

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The challengers competed to win an awesome assortment of prizes, including a CEL - Robox 3D Printer CEL - Robox 3D Printer, and an assortment of tools from Duratool. More information on the prizes can be found here.



Thoughts on The Challenge


The summer is almost over here in the northern hemisphere, and that means that the Pi IoT Smarter Things Design Challenge has come and gone. Over the past seventeen weeks or so, I have read through every update post its challengers have made, and I want to say that I am beyond impressed with everyone who took part in this Challenge. I personally know how hard it is to build a complex project on a very tight and precise schedule, and I can honestly say that the participants from this Challenge figured out the secret to keeping it all together. For that, I applaud each and every one of you.


All of the projects from this Challenge were very inspirational, and beyond anything I have seen so far in the last several Design Challenges. With that said, I would like to congratulate everyone who managed to finish their project in the allotted time, while also encouraging those who did not finish, to keep pushing forward to complete their projects. Even though the Challenge has concluded, there are still many of us who return to the content page every day looking for new updates. In fact, there is nothing to stop anyone taking on this Challenge anytime in the future.


On a personal level, several of the projects have inspired me to begin building out my own custom smart home interface, and I have even begun writing my own tutorials based around some of the ideas the Challengers brought to the table. From Frederick Vandenbosh’s Alarm Clock, to the competition aspect of Caterina Lazaro’s Smart Competition Home. I have even included some automated elements into my small hobby farm, thanks to Jon Morss’s Remote Horse Feeder System. I can not thank the Challengers enough for this inspiration, and I can not wait to see what each of them develop in the future!



The Winners

With my personal opinions to the side, let's jump straight in and get to the reason you clicked on this post in the first place, but first one of our judges, Roger Thornton, Principal Hardware Engineer at the Raspberry Pi Foundation would like to say a few words about the challenge and congratulate all Challengers and Winners personally and on behalf of element14 and all the Sponsors.



As you all know, the Challenge started off with fourteen projects chosen to compete, and of those fourteen, twelve projects stayed active almost all the way to the end. Of course, not all twelve could make their way to the winners podium, and only three could take the main prizes home. So without further adieu, here are our top three projects for the Smarter Spaces Design Challenge.


Pi IoT Grand Prize Winner1st Place - Project IoT Alarm Clock by Frederick Vandenbosch(fvan).




Frederick’s IoT Alarm Clock  is one of the most polished projects I have seen posted to any of the Design Challenges since I started covering them last year. The clean lines of the wood enclosure, combined with the feature rich interface that he built to control his smart home was simply second to none. Each of Frederick’s update blogs were clean, consistent, and very informative for both engineers and hobbyists. Furthermore, his ability to document every aspect of the project made things very simple for those at home to follow along for themselves. To top all of this off, Frederick actually moved to a new home mid-way through his project’s build, making the end result even more impressive. To read through the entire project, head over to its blog page.


For his first place win, Frederick will take home a CEL Robox 3D PrinterCEL Robox 3D Printer, and a full compliment of Duratool tools for his workbench. Congrats Frederick, you deserved this!


Pi IoT Second Place Winner2nd Place - Project Thuis by Robin Eggenkamp (rhe123).



Thius by Robin Eggenkamp is one of those projects that you simply fall in love with as an engineer. Its clean execution, excellent documentation, and ability to be easily replicated at home makes it the trifecta of perfection. Robin did an amazing job of bringing his original concept to life, and I commend him on such an excellent execution.  As I mentioned in my opening paragraphs, I was inspired by many of the projects in this Challenge, and Thius was full of inspiration for me. Head over to the project’s main blog page to read it from the beginning. Congratulation Robin, and I hope to see you in future Challenges here at Element14.


For his second place finish, Robin takes home an awesome assortment of tools from Duratool, including an awesome Field Service Kit, Mechanical Tool Kit, and much more. Head over to the official Smarter Spaces prize page for a full rundown!



Pi IoT 3rd Place Winner3rd Place - Project Plant Health Smart Camera by gpolder (gpolder).



Taking home the third place trophy is Gerrit Polder with his project Plant Health Smart Camera, one of the most innovative agriculture-based IoT projects I have seen in a long time. The utilization of OpenCV, and comparisons of images taken in different spectrums of light truly amazed me. Much like the other two top projects, Gerrit was masterful at documenting the progress of this project, and I felt that it was easy to follow along with at home. If you would like to read more of this project, please head over to its main blog page!

For his third place finish, Gerrit takes home a Duratool Tool KitDuratool Tool Kit, and Rotary Tool Accessory KitRotary Tool Accessory Kit.



First Honorable Mention - Smart Competition Home by Caterina Lazaro (clazarom).




I really enjoyed this project, and it’s fresh approach to making a smart home even smarter. The competition aspect of it simply blew me away, and really gave me a new outlook on what a smart home can truly be. Instead of just a bunch of sensors, and relays, a smarthome can include competitions, games, entertainment, and anything else we can dream up. I want to offer a huge thanks to Caterina for working so hard on this project, and for demonstrating such amazing out-of-the-box thinking. If you have not yet read through the whole project, I highly suggest doing so by visiting its blog page.



Second Honorable Mention - Project DomPi by Sergio Martinez (mg.sergio).




When I talk about gaining inspiration to create my own smart home interface because of this Challenge, I can not speak highly enough of this project. Sergio’s sensor integration using arduinos and MQTT to relay data back to a Raspberry Pi Raspberry Pi in the beginning of the Challenge was what started the gears in my head turning. I really enjoyed watching this project progress over the last few months, and I will be incorporating many of its aspects into my own smart home. If you too have been inspired to create your own Smarter Space, please read through the project by visiting its blog page.



That is going to wrap things up for this post. I would like to once again congratulate our winners, as well as everyone who took place in the Pi IoT Smarter Spaces Design Challenge.