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Introducing the “Forget Me Not” challenge

Thu, 07/31/2014 - 2:20pm
Christian DeFeo, eSupplier and Innovation Manager, element14

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of exclusive blog posts for ECN that will explore the Internet of Things, inspired by element14’s new “Forget Me Not” design challenge.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is bringing newfound connectivity to our daily lives. Some think of it as a catalyst for the next industrial revolution. With IoT we can receive news from around the world on a variety of platforms, start our cars with the push of a button and place a coffee order from our smartphone during the morning commute – all before arriving at work. So, the question of the moment is: What’s next?

At element14 we’re challenging our online community of 250,000 design engineers and hobbyists to find an answer. Deemed the “Forget Me Not” challenge, we’re asking 20 participants how the IoT will affect home monitoring and automation. Most of the connectivity we’re currently experiencing pertains to other people and companies or brands from which we buy products and services. Home life is the next phase of IoT evolution, and it will soon become technologically connected to the devices we carry with us.

This challenge aims to solve problems that people face every day in terms of forgetting simple tasks – hence the name, “Forget Me Not.” We hope to ease the burden of forgetting for people, so they don’t have to wonder whether or not they took the trash out in time for garbage day or turned the burner off after a morning batch of pancakes. Essentially, we hope the challenge will prevent people from worrying about forgetting household tasks ever again. The technology in our participants’ submissions will allow people to monitor and control their homes remotely from their phones and tablets, showcasing the vast number of opportunities and freedoms IoT brings to designers and engineers.

Embracing the Internet of Things            

We’re encouraging participants to utilize the Internet to boost connectivity and encourage automation. Contest builds will use energy harvesting wireless sensors that relay information to smartphones and tablets, which can then execute the desired real-time home updates directly from those devices. The IoT presents great potential to change how we live our lives, merging our home, work and social responsibilities into a compact device. By way of more connectivity, people will be able to respond to a work email, make a dinner reservation with friends and ensure that they locked their door, all with a few taps on their phones.

Our hope is that this contest generates opportunities for smart homes of the future. It’s only a matter of time before we see the IoT made commonplace in all homes, and Forget Me Not is making the first attempt at predicting what exactly that will look like.

How It Works

A total of 20 competitors from around the world – including New Zealand, India, Finland, Italy, Australia, Germany, Canada, Belgium, the United Kingdom and the United States – will build their designs and blog about their progress on element14.com from now until late October. Proposed project designs include everything from a smart home security system, to technology allowing users to feed pets remotely and devices that tell you if the laundry has been left in the washing machine.

Alongside EnOcean, Tektronix, the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the Eclipse Foundation, we’re providing the selected engineers with the materials they need to complete a winning submission. We’ll be giving contestants the new Raspberry Pi B+ board, EnOcean kits and sensors to execute their proposed builds, along with a variety of other tech materials. In addition, each participant has a set budget of $500 to purchase extra materials throughout the process.The grand prize winner will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Electronica 2014 in Munich, Germany, in addition to a product bundle valued at more than $20,000.

We hope this competition will be a clear representation of how connectivity is changing the way we live and how we’ll soon be monitoring our homes in the future. The designers and engineers at element14 taking part in this contest have life-altering innovation in their hands. If successful, their entries have the potential to find their way into all of our homes.  

In the coming weeks of this blog series, we will take a closer look at the various design submissions we have chosen and track the progress of the engineers as they begin bringing their creations to life.

About the Author

Christian DeFeo is the e-supplier and innovation manager at Newark element14, a global electronics distributor and online community of more than 250,000 design engineers and tech enthusiasts. Recently, he oversaw a “Smarter Life” design challenge at the element14 Community, in which engineers around the world developed connected devices and appliances.

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