Nordic Semiconductor's Smarter Sustainable World Challenge called upon the Hackster community to create innovative solutions that reduce our ecological footprint utilizing the sensors and Bluetooth LE connectivity of the newly released Nordic Thingy:53 multi-protocol prototyping platform. Over its four-month period, the contest received 468 participants from 63 representative countries with 50 final qualified submissions — which certainly made selecting just three projects quite difficult. But without further ado, here are the winners!
By Elijah Maluleke (South Africa 🇿🇦)
Elijah Maluleke devised a smart IoT device that automatically closes a valve whenever there is an abnormal flow of water through the water tap. The judges were very impressed with what Maluleke has accomplished in hardware and software development with limited resources in a rural environment. His innovative engineering skills were further demonstrated with the final project installation put to work at a local farm where he trained a 30-year-old farm worker as an end user.
This solution implements a valve shut-off controlled by a servo motor. When a person moves away from the water supply with the tap left open, the Thingy53 automatically shuts off the flow of water via the servo until a person is once again detected. The volume of water saved, when scaled to the myriad number of water supplies, could have a huge impact on conservation efforts.
This device also communicated the gathered water usage information to the tap owner and monitored daily water usage of tap on which it is installed. The judges think this simple prototype has great commercialization and impact potential it can be applied in numerous industries and can easily advise lower water usage, less water waste and inadvertently, lower water costs. Using Maluleke's documentation and design, this easy project build can be an affordable, easily replicable solution implemented in the underdeveloped regions of the world.
From the judges:
“The concept of the project is simple, but at the same time incredibly effective! A smart water tap system that is retrofitted to any water tap and ensures that less water is wasted, either if it is due to a forgetful farm trainee or unexpected leakages. Very impressive how Thingy:53’s functionality has been extended with a PIR sensor and a solenoid valve control circuit and that the contestant has developed his own custom firmware. Excellent documentation with intuitive wiring diagrams that make it easy for others to build their version of the smart tap.”
By Mateusz Pająk (Poland 🇵🇱)
Mateusz Pająk's project is built to fight the food shortage crisis and achieve maximum yield with the power of IoT and control engineering for soil-less vertical farming applications. The judges were amazed by the prototype and thorough documentation.
From the judges:
“The level of detail and thoughtfulness in creating the solution was extremely impressive. From the CAD renderings and 3D printed parts to maximize airflow, maximized density of crop placement, and the software stack provided, the overall solution is technically feasible and could certainly be scaled to make an impact on food production capability.”
“Very extensive project and impressive that the contestant has been able to build this within the timeframe of the contest. The project takes advantage of the environmental sensing as well Ai/machine learning capabilities of the Thingy:53. The attention to detail is clearly visible throughout the project documentation that covers all the aspects of development, from the mechanical parts all the way down to the firmware running on the Thingy:53. A well deserved 2nd place and looking forward to the next iteration of the project. “
This project provides the community with a complete solution that could be used out of the box to address urban farming and crop health. The AgroNordic team has developed a full software stack that includes all of the sensors, the Thingy:53, cloud connectivity to AWS, a dashboard to view the status of all the components and crops. This is a full system with interesting integrations and is not far from what a finished product that could be used by farmers would look like.
From the judges:
“Overall a very impressive project that reduces water usage and fits very well into the sustainability theme of the contest and is very impressive over the engineering and system design skills of the creators. The project enhances the capabilities of the previous iterations of the system with low-power sensor sampling, and solar power and allows the system to operate without cloud connectivity. The project documentation is extensive and well-written, and the source code is available for other Hackster users to create their own AgroNordic System. Looking forward to seeing a commercial version of the AgroNordic system!”
We’d like to give a thank you to all the judges who dedicated their time to reviewing and evaluating all the projects:
- Bjørn Spockeli, Senior Project Manager at Nordic Semiconductor
- Robin M. Saltnes, Product Marketing Engineer at Nordic Semiconductor
- David Tischler, Developer Relationship Lead at Edge Impulse
For a look at all the amazing runner-ups, be sure to check out the contest page here. If you're looking for interesting projects to build with a Thingy:53, explore the project gallery on Nordic's Hackster page.