Elizabeth Montalbano

November 26, 2014

2 Min Read
The IoT Comes to Your Backyard

The promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) is that devices, gadgets, and appliances we use every day will be able to communicate with one another. This potential is not limited to household items or smartphones, but also things we find in our yard and garden, as evidenced by a recent challenge from the element14 design community.

The Internet of Backyard Design Challenge asked members of the online engineering community to equip garden or yard implements and tools with IoT capabilities, armed with the Simplelink WiFi CC3200 Launchpad from Texas Instruments.

The winner of the challenge is Janis Alnis of Latvia. Alnis designed the Tomato Greenhouse, comprised of a solar-powered garden lamp for tomato plants with IoT connectivity that uses a passive infrared sensor (PIR) motion detector to switch on the LEDs when someone is nearby. It also includes a wireless temperature measurement system of hot water pipes and an automatic watering system.

There also were two runners-up in the contest. Colin Gerrish of Ireland received an honorable mention for the Grass Growing Monitoring System (GGMS), which uses light sensors to capture and send data via the cloud to alert owners when the grass in their yard needs cutting.

Lukasz Krysiewicz of Poland also received an honorable mention for the IoT umbrella. The device automatically closes during strong winds and storms, changes its position based on the location of the sun, and can relay forecast warnings to its user.

Element14 is a community of electronics engineers that often sponsors contests like this to push the envelope of device design using some of the latest tools available. Previous competitions focused on wearable technology, the smart home, and Halloween.

Click on the image below to see the Tomato Greenhouse, Grass Growing Monitoring System, and IoT umbrella.


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About the Author(s)

Elizabeth Montalbano

Elizabeth Montalbano has been a professional journalist covering the telecommunications, technology and business sectors since 1998. Prior to her work at Design News, she has previously written news, features and opinion articles for Phone+, CRN (now ChannelWeb), the IDG News Service, Informationweek and CNNMoney, among other publications. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she also has lived and worked in Phoenix, Arizona; San Francisco and New York City. She currently resides in Lagos, Portugal. Montalbano has a bachelor's degree in English/Communications from De Sales University and a master's degree from Arizona State University in creative writing.

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