I still remember that one of the first posts I ever saw on the Community was Liam Lacey's vintage-toy-piano-turned-synthesizer; I was immediately struck by the clever idea, and then amazed at how good it actually sounded, it wasn't just a novelty. The projects posted here are without a doubt one of the great draws of the e14 Community, both for their ingenuity and the practical know-how they provide, as members walk us through how their projects were constructed and we learn new techniques.
The 2017 crop of projects carried on that tradition in a big way. Not only did we run three Design Challenges during the year, which produced a number of excellent entries, we launched a new program called Project14, meant to be less time-intensive than a traditional Design Challenge while still having a clear theme and goal for the projects. Let's take a look at some of the Community team's favorites of this year!
I remember bringing disposable cameras to the local Walmart to have the photos printed, haggling with the clerk about when they would be finished. Being somewhat impatient by nature, I sure don't miss that! These days, most of us carry around a pretty spiffy camera in our pockets, one that also makes calls and browses the internet (among many other functions), and we can send the pictures we take to our family and friends in seconds. Frederick Vandenbosch decided to make that process simpler and more feature rich using Raspberry Pi: his Connected Picture Frame downloads photos from a shared Dropbox folder, creates slideshows with them, allows users to "like" those photo and then sends push notifications to other users about that action, and more.
Our Upcycle It Design Challenge asked participants to take an outdated piece of hardware, one that might otherwise have been scrapped, and make it new and useful. Carmelito Andrade took a look at an old clock his mother had given him and saw the potential for a connected device. His Upcycled Clock can provide real-time updates for weather and traffic conditions, notifications from his email and Twitter account, it monitors air quality and temperature, and more. On the Community we don't just evaluate brand new products; we make old ones new again.
I want to say that I really like this project, but a pair of glowing eyes flashing in the dark, maybe moving towards me with bad intentions? I'm not sure I can handle that! But I can certainly respect the skill that Cabe Atwell put into this Arduino-based Halloween project. These LED eyes (which don't creep me out at all, I keep telling myself) use a light dependent resistor to detect ambient conditions so that they only turn on when it's properly dark, which is a lovely additional scare for super brave people like me who can handle it.
If I'm being honest, after looking at the Scary Eyes for a bit I was relieved to move on to a project focused on safety and security! For our Safe and Sound Design Challenge we asked Community members to design a wearable device that would, naturally, help keep them safe and sound from various hazards in their environment. And Douglas Wong came through brilliantly, designing a set of wearable sensors that tell you about the hazards that you might not be able to immediately perceive, like toxic gases, EM radiation, UV light, and more.
We were excited to launch Project14 this year on the Community, and it's already yielded so many great projects that it would be hard to mention them all. In fact, our Project14 maven Tariq posted his own roundup about the inaugural year of the program, so check that out for a deeper dive. But one submission that caught my eye (sorry, lame pun) was Shabaz Yousaf's Cyclops-1000, a handheld tool used to test rotational speed. It uses an LED to shine infrared light on an object, then senses reflected light and records it, reporting in revolutions per minute. It's low cost, simple to use, and effective, making it a great project for learning electronics.
Transportation is an industry as old as recorded history, and the Internet of Things was always going to have an impact on it; as other devices became more connected, it was only logical for vehicles to follow suit. Our IoT on Wheels Design Challenge explored those possibilities, and the winning entry was a great example. Dixon Selvan's Traffic Predictor is a device that attaches to your vehicle and scans the traffic around you with sonar. The device then saves or uploads this traffic data to a central database, including location, time, and traffic severity. His app then lets him avoid traffic using the findings from sonar, the app, and the Google Maps AI to find the best shared route to his chosen destination.
The thing is, we've only just scratched the surface here of the great projects posted on the Community in 2017 -- what were some that you thought deserve mention? Leave a comment below! We'll be running a poll to let the Community pick its favorite project of 2017, so stay tuned for that as well!