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Smart IoT solutions made with the Oplà kit

Three teams took on the challenge to create smart IoT solutions with the Arduino Oplà IoT kit during the year’s first Prototyping Bootcamp.

Tuesday 02 February

Prototyping Bootcamp – a week for us to break new digital ground

Each year we set aside two weeks for the internal team building and hackathon concept we call the Prototyping Bootcamp. One week at the start of the year and one when summer’s over. This is when we gather our entire team to break new ground within digital product development together. And, to have fun of course.

The rules are simple! One or a couple of different technology themes are chosen from which our employees will dig into and come up with an idea or concept they’d like to try out. Simply put – to try and create a prototype or Proof-of-Concept. At the end of the week each team gets to present what they have come up with in a demo. They talk us through the process of how they created their solution, what challenges they had and what they learned along the way.

The Arduino Oplà IoT kit

During our first annual Prototyping Bootcamp our co-founder and developer Tobias Rundbom had chosen two technology themes from which the employees could choose from. One of the themes was to create IoT solutions using the Arduino Oplà IoT kit, which is a set of 8 separate modules that can be used to assemble and transform everyday things to smart IoT solutions. It’s also possible to connect a smartphone to the developed IoT solution.

This is how the Arduino Oplà IoT kit works


Three teams took on the challenge of working with the Arduino Oplà IoT kit which resulted in as many groundbreaking ideas.

The Plant humanizer

Imagine if your plants could show emotions and simply tell you what they need, and when. Wouldn’t it have made nurturing plants so much easier? Well, say no more! One team of the Prototyping Bootcamp took on the task and tried to create the best possible solution within a week.

The team:
Adam Agnaou, Beatrice Lundevall, Toni Oriol, Jihyun An, Tobias Rundbom och Fanny Petersen, Sanna Marklund

The idea

By measuring and analyzing data extracted from the humidity of the soil, light exposure and temperature, the IoT solution will be able to match the plants values with values that (in theory) are optimal for that exact plant. If the plant thrives, the Plant Humanizer will display a happy emoji, flash a green light and play a cheerful tune. If the plant however lacks water or sunlight The Plant Humanizer will display a sad emoji and “sadly” (slowly) flash with only one of it’s lights.

The result

It turned out that it’s feasible to build a Plant Humanizer in just one week. According to, as described in the idea, the finished prototype reacted to different levels of light, humidity and temperature. And showed it’s emotions on each triggering level.

But what really stuck with us all at the end was the cheery song which brings you back down memory lane and to the ringtones of the first mobile phones.

The video below: Tired plant triggered by bad light



Learnings and insights

With the Arduino Oplà IoT kit it’s really easy to set up the foundation for how to measure a plant's health and add a couple of simple outputs. But, as always, it takes time to perfect the details – and so even when humanizing plants.

We can highly recommend using the Arduino IoT Cloud Web Editor to write and upload code. It makes it so much easier to share code between the team members. To resolve this during the Prototyping Bootcamp we used Arduino CLI to compile and upload the code to the Arduino Oplà IoT kit. This also made it possible to store the code locally and share it on GitHub.

The Oplà has multiple outlets which made it easier for the team to program several sensors at the same time without having conflicts in the code.

SaunAssistant

Have you, as the rest of us, ever had a problem keeping the ideal temperature in the sauna? Is there always that one crazy person who keeps pouring water on the heater making the sauna unbearable? If yes, the SaunAssistant is the solution you didn’t know you needed.

The team:
Linda Almqvist, Jacob Hallenborg

The idea

The idea with SaunAssistant is for it to measure the temperature and humidity inside the sauna so that you can keep track of the shifting temperatures from the outside – preferably using a smartphone or computer. When the temperature and humidity is less than what is set as optimal levels of temperature and humidity, an attached water pump will splash water automatically on the sauna heater.

The result

The team started off by exploring the Oplà MKR IoT Carrier kit which comes with sensors for measuring temperature and humidity. However, what the team did not take into account at first was the fact that these sensors most likely wouldn’t stand the saunas high temperatures and levels of humidity. To solve this problem they set out to buy an external temperature sensor which they could place in the sauna by drilling a hole from the outside, and connecting it to two of the Arduino’s micro controllers.

The temperature of the sauna could be read by the built-in LCD display on one of the microcontroller units. The same microcontroller simultaneously sends and posts the temperature values with the Arduino IoT Cloud Dashboard – which makes it possible to track and read the SaunAssistant dashboard using a computer or smartphone.


The second microcontroller unit controls the water pump which sprinkles water over the sauna heater. The device runs a web server which accepts HTTP requests. This to solve the problem of the Arduino IoT Cloud (currently) not supporting communication between the two devices.

And as a cherry on top for the demo, Jacob and Linda presented the SaunAssistant from their own sauna – dressed in robes and sauna caps. Making it very authentic! 🙂


Learnings and insights

Despite the Arduino IoT Cloud platform being quite a young product the overall experience was good! After a week of exploring the team identified the following pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Being able to upload new code to the Arduino Oplà IoT kit without it being connected through USB was very useful.
  • Using Arduino IoT Cloud means you don’t have to create your own app to read and display data from the Oplà. And makes it real easy to get started

Cons:

  • The Cloud platform doesn’t have a built-in support system to communicate between devices. In this aspect other IoT systems, such as Particle, are more powerful.
  • The touch buttons on the Oplà MKR IoT Carrier are very tricky to set up correctly. The sensitivity is either too high or too low and eventually the team decided against using them at all.
  • There are plenty of cool example projects using the Oplà IoT kit but if you’d like to take a closer look at them, specifically the technical set up, it’s pretty difficult to find proper documentation and recommendations.

Sailing data collector

If you’re into sailing or keen on making it your next hobby, you’d definitely pick it up and reach your full potential way quicker by using sensors on the boat while sailing. This is because sailboats are extremely sensitive to wind, waves and your body’s position. And with visualised data it’s easier to understand and develop from it.

The team:
Claudio Levinas, Mai Hoang

The idea

The idea was to equip a boat with sensors that can recognize direction and angles of the boat and its different parts. The sensors will react and gather data throughout the saling and visualise it. Which will make it easier for any sailor gaining insights and to develop from their sailing activity.

The result

Unfortunately, to equip and test the concept on a real boat was out of the question for the purpose of the Prototyping Bootcamp. This then led the team to build and use their own made to scale model of a sailing boat as their Proof-of-Concept. This model boat made it easier to present their idea to the rest of the participants through Google Meet.

By tilting the boat in different directions the team showed how data was collected through the use of a dashboard. The data could later on be translated to actual improvement suggestions to use for the sailor. Concept proved!



Learnings and insights

Working with physical sensors can be daunting, they need to be calibrated, they are affected by the environment in unexpected ways (especially the magnetometer!), and they have inherent noise. Working around these problems can be time consuming, but for this project we just used the raw data. Turns out that calculating information such as yaw (the rotation around the vertical axis) requires incorporating readings from all 9-axis! Luckily, the Arduino community had supplied us with libraries that can do these calculations, but they were still difficult to comprehend. In addition, it turns out that the sensors, the yaw-pitch-roll calculations and Unity3D all use different coordinate systems.

A final product would have to be a blackbox, recording all the readings while sailing and automatically sending them to the simulation once we’re back in WiFi range. Also, on a real Laser sailboat the sail is moving freely so you can’t connect a potentiometer to it, instead, with thought of installing a compass on the mast and calculating the difference between the mast and the boat hull. We also left out the wind measurements, but there are plenty of ready made high quality devices that can be purchased.

Develop your own IoT solutions with the Arduino Oplà IoT kit

If you’re interested in the Arduino Oplà IoT kit and want to know more we recommend you to have a look at their website. There you can also read more about other exciting projects and solutions made with their platform. 🙂

Curious for more? The other half of the company tried out the game development kit PICO-8 --> Full story here