Cypress and element14 are pleased to announce the PSoC 4 Smarter Life Design Challenge winners!

A big congratulations to all of the seventeen (17) finalists who took part in the PSoC 4 Smarter Life design challenge and made excellent progress along the way!

When we launched this contest a few months ago, we challenged the community to take the PSoC 4 Pioneer Kit and make something that’s creative, practical, and Smart.

The high-quality engineering community here at element14 has responded with some amazing applications that will truly make for Smarter Life end-products with PSoC.

Each and every finalist made very compelling designs and accomplished a lot in a very short time. Our decision to pick the winners was a very difficult one, with very narrow margins between the top entries.

The finalist’s entries were judged on several criteria, including, creativity, uniqueness, best resource usage of the PSoC 4200 SoC, complexity, design completeness, and of course staying in theme with the contest of Smarter Life products.


Without further ado, the winners of the 2014 PSoC 4 Smarter Life Design Challenge are….. *drum roll* -


FIRST PLACE WINNER: All-Expenses Paid Trip to Embedded World ’14 in Germany

Douglas Wong with ‘The Henrietta Project (Smart Thermostat)

Technical objectives to make a better thermostat were met and the final system works exactly like the original design envisioned. There were of course myriad problems that threatened to prevent completion of the project, including a catastrophic power supply failure that resulted in a minor fireworks display and some charcoal components.

On the positive side, the AC thermostat interface worked perfectly on the first spin without needing any modification, the display choice worked out well, the Bluetooth choice worked extremely well, the GPS choice worked surprisingly well indoors and of course the PSoC Creator made the project possible with extensive ready-made functionality and highly flexible integration. To put this project in perspective, if an engineering firm was commissioned to implement the Henrietta project, they might assign a  team that included an electronics designer to design the circuitry and PC boards, a firmware programmer to program the PSoC4, a PC programmer to develop the PC app, an android programmer to develop the android app, a mechanical designer to design the packaging, an electronics technician to build the electronics, a mechanical technician to build the packaging and a project manager, plus procurement staff and executive overhead etc. If the project was scheduled to take 2 - 3 months, it could easily consume a man-year of labour and would cost accordingly. It is a tremendous testament to the power and ease-of-use of the PSoC Creator integrated development environment and the pre-assembled Pioneer Kit that this project's challenging objectives could be completed by just one person in just one month, starting from a position of never having used PSoC Creator or the C programming language in a project before. The Henrietta Project took a significant effort to complete, but it was worthwhile to gain so much knowledge while creating a unique and useful system that is also an attractive showcase of what is possible with the PSoC4 Pioneer Kit from Cypress Semiconductor.


SECOND PLACE WINNER: $1,500 Voucher towards element14 retail sites

Anthony Kahl with ‘The Smart Bicycle Light

I've tried throughout to extend the simplicity of what is essentially a bike light you can forget about down to the nitty-gritty of implementation. This meant minimising hardware componentry where possible (a good example of this was ditching the body touch sense in favour of a mechanical tap gesture for user input), and making the most of the Psoc architecture to keep lines of code (at least ones that aren't auto-generated..) to as low a count as possible. The result of which is well on the way to meeting the original spec, with some nice additions along the way (the 'free' low-overhead kind, not the scope-creep-kinda-too-late-but-will-do-it-anyway kind).

I've used, abused (and had gather dust) a bunch of development kits and boards over the years, the pioneer kit is definitely at the top of the pile. It allowed me to get up and running quickly, with no messing about in setting up programming/debug environments. Software-wise creator is pretty good to that end. I think there's always a risk with development hardware that they just end up being chip carriers or on the flip-side vastly too complicated. Both of these can be deal-breakers when the whole point of them is to evaluate a technology, if one can't do that quickly or what's provided doesn't have enough features to do so then people will move on to something else. The pioneer kit hardware has the balance reasonably close to ideal in this regard.


COMMUNITY-VOTED WINNER: $1,500 Voucher towards element14 retail sites

Javier Hernandez with ‘The GeoCar

On the project proposal I wrote all the functionality without knowing much about the PSoC4 product or the Pioneer Kit. Based on basic specs it seems possible to I set a big goal. Mostly I do this as a hobby however all I learn here I use for my regular job. So in my hobby side I dream and aim Big. On the main proposal I included a lot of peripherals which I latter learn that not all make were actually needed or become a challenge to interface

This is an amazing development board. For us that work regularly with Visual Studio using the Creator is very familiar and the debugger is great. I found the board to be flexible. During the challenge some of the components were updated without any problem, very easy and straight trough process. Basically all tools updated with a simple mouse click. For using a Arduino SDCard shield I had to populate the J12 port on the board and it was very well documented on how to do it. Also I flashed and re-flashed the PSoC4 and the PSoC5 chips from the board without any problem. Switched all back to factory in a moment notice very quickly when needed. I also used the Pioneer kit as a programmer for an external chip without the need to remove a few resistors from the board. The option of using an evaluation board as a programmer allow me to graduate my projects out of the evaluation board.

The Pioneer Kit is an economy board but very well packed. Just by the PSoC4 is great but been able to use the PSoC5 in the same board is amazing. Once can quickly test the basics of the PSoC5 without any other hardware.


For those who did not make it to our top-3, we would like to offer our congratulations again on making it to the final-15 and on being funded with the $500 vouchers and free PSoC 4 Pioneer Kits to make your designs with.

A lot of you were in contention for the winners, and I repeat, the margin was extremely narrow between the top-3 and the rest of the pack. We’re truly amazed by your efforts!

Thank you - Alex Behnaz, Abhijit Bose, Monte Chan, Wojciech Gelmuda, Cosmin Iorga, Anastasios Kanakis, Linas Karpavicius, Jianyi Liu, Jim Lynch, Dr. Mala Mitra, Peter Shabino, Paul Sisneros, Mani Thundiyil, Yuri Tikhonov, and Steve Turner!

A special thank you to Victor, Don (DAB), Christian and others on the community who helped make this contest possible by offering their support, guidance, and most importantly - enthusiasm for an exciting engineering challenge.

If you missed out on this design challenge, do not worry as we will plan for more such design challenges with the element14 community.

In the meanwhile, learn more about PSoC 4, PSoC Creator Software IDE, and the PSoC 4 Pioneer Kit including the 100 Projects in 100 Days effort.