List of 16 Best IoT Project Ideas for Engineers
IoT or the Internet of Things is the buzzword in technology these days. It is expected to be the technology of the future, enabling various devices to “talk” to and interact with each other, creating smart systems. The advancement in sensors as well as wireless technology, combined with increased penetration of smartphones has led to mainstreaming of IoT. There are plenty of blogs, vlogs and online communities demonstrating various use cases of IoT. In this article, we will list out a few IoT projects that you can get involved with.
ESP8266 Wi-Fi chip
The ESP8266 is an Arduino based project that involves a specially designed low-cost microchip, which allows microcontrollers to connect to a WiFi network. This chip has a low power CPU and ports which can connect to an external microcontroller. Since most of our lives run via internet and browsers, there are a ton of cool projects that you can do using the ESP8266.
Some examples can be turning a device or a home appliance on/off using a web browser. You can even allow your wearable devices to communicate to a microcontroller or a computer. You can create something like a table-top display which shows you your social media stats, and how many YouTube subscribers have signed up for your channel. Anything that requires you to repeatedly check a website for new information can be simplified by using the ESP8266 and a display that shows you the updated info without you having to do much.
Tracking pollution in a city
As countries and cities develop, pollution levels have increased. there is more particulate matter in the air due to dust from construction, emissions from vehicles, and in some cases, pollution from burning crop stubble. You can do something about this growing problem by combining your interest in technology and this amazing project on a particulate sensor network. Visit the link below for more info.
Basically, you can use a Shinyei sensor, an ESP8266 chip for TCP/IP communication and a DHT22 humidity and temperature sensor to create a system which identifies parameters like PM 2.5 and PM 1.0 densities, humidity, temperature, etc. and transmits that information to a web server of a website. Once you have multiple such sensors in different parts of a city, you can start to map out the pollution levels across a city and have all the information displayed on one central map on the website.
Here is another way of creating the pollution tracking system
Smart Security Camera
Security and Surveillance is an area hugely impacted by IoT. A security surveillance system depends on constantly monitoring a place or an object. To do that, you either need a physical person or a “virtual eye”. Cameras have been this virtual eye for a long time. With advancements in network technologies, it is now possible to connect any local camera to a WiFi network. Once on the network, the camera can pretty much be controlled from anywhere in the world, using any device which is connected to the internet.
Surveillance has gone from a local level to a global level. Camera feed can be seen anywhere, and cameras can be zoomed and panned from anywhere as well. You can create such a system using Raspberry camera modules and Raspberry Pi computer chip. It will allow you to view the feed from your camera on your smartphone – from anywhere in the world! – as long as you are connected to the internet.
Smart Alarm Clock
Wouldn’t it be great if you could have an alarm clock that notified you about an event, which constantly changes in time, without you having to repeatedly update the alarm timings? For example, you might want to catch a train or a bus, and those arrival times were so erratic that they would constantly be changing. You could design a smart clock that would constantly update its trigger time as per the changing schedule without you having to do anything.
Well, it is possible to design such a smart alarm clock Raspberry Pi, an Arduino chip and a few other components. You could even have the system play your favorite radio station on weekends (programmed to follow a weekend alarm) and have it tune in to the news on a weekday (programmed to follow a weekday alarm). Make your alarm clock smart, instructions listed in the link below:
Color Changing Jewelry
What if you could change the color of your necklace with the swipe of a finger on your smartphone? Or perhaps, you could stick some LEDs on that dance jacket of yours, and use your smartphone to control the colors of the LED. All of this is possible when fashion meets technology. Thanks to the Intel Edison, along with Bluetooth technology, you can make your own smartphone-controlled jewelry. Instructions for designing this system are in the link below:
Phone Controlled Garage Door
We all are familiar with using a small clicker to open and close our garage door. But the trouble with that little clicker is that it often gets misplaced, lost, or the battery runs out. Sometimes, you have to point it towards the door at an angle to get it working. You can say goodbye to all those troubles by converting your garage door into an IoT smart door.
There is a way to use your phone to open and close the garage door. All you need is an Arduino chip, some other components, the blynk app, and an internet signal. You can not only control the door with your smartphone, but even a tablet or any device which is connected to the internet. You can even operate the door sitting in your office or on a beach halfway around the world. The convenience and ease-of-use are both simply amazing!
How often have you missed a delivery man, a postman or a visitor at your home door simply because you were not at your home? The visitor rings your doorbell, but you cannot hear it, because you are probably a few miles away at the office or at an event. It is also possible that you are on vacation and someone important visits, rings the doorbell, and goes back because no one answered.
There is a simple solution to all of this. It is called an IoT doorbell and it can be designed using Amazon web services, Raspberry Pi, and a simple USB Webcam. The cool thing about this IoT doorbell is that every time someone rings your doorbell, you can get an SMS or email with a notification. A physically challenged or a deaf person can get a vibrate notification on their phone when someone is at the door.
You can further enhance this system by throwing in a USB webcam. This camera can take a picture of the person at the door, and SMS or email you the same. You can add voice capability and then use Raspberry Pi to actually talk to the visitor at the door while sitting thousands of miles away. The IoT technology and your smartphone make this exciting doorbell possible.
Smart Parking System
Driving around to find a spot for parking your vehicle is time-consuming and causes wastage of fuel. It leads to additional emissions and added fuel cost for the driver of the vehicle. IoT’s solution to this problem is the smart parking system.
This system requires the use of a Raspberry Pi controller, a few cameras, a cloud server or a centralized server, and a display device. The basic idea is that cameras continuously monitor the availability of parking slots. All this info gets sent to the central server, which can be accessed by anyone via a web browser through a smartphone or tablet. You can go one step further and try to figure out if the information from the central server can be sent to your GPS system via Bluetooth. That way, not only do you identify where the free parking spots, but also get detailed directions on how to get there quickly and efficiently.
Motion Controlled Servo Motors
You can use your hand movements to control the movement of an object, using servo motors and a device called Leap Motion. These devices communicate with each other using Raspberry Pi. The Leap Motion has the ability to capture 300 frames per second, collecting information about the hand movement in X, Y, and Z axis. Leap Motion is equipped with 3 infrared LEDs and 2 IR cameras.
The information from Leap Motion is read by Raspberry Pi using an interface called PubNub, and then the Raspberry sends signals to the servo motors to move according to the hand movement info which it received. Such a setup can be great for attracting crowds at a trade fair, an event, or at a party. You can even make a game out of it. For more info, see link below:
Remote Controlled LED
A great way to showcase what IoT technology is all about, or to teach young students about technology and IoT, you can design this simple setup of a remote-controlled LED. The remote in this case is your smartphone or any Android device. All you need for this project is an Arduino chip, a resistor to drive the LED, an LED, and some wires to connect all of this. The script and the circuit for this design are both available on the link mentioned below.
The Arduino chip basically runs a really simple and basic web server. It receives an HTTP request from the smartphone via an Android app and then it outputs a signal to the LED to turn it on or off, depending on the HTTP request it receives. More info on this project on the link below:
Change the color of LED using IoT
Make your LED glow in whichever color suits your mood. You can use IoT to change the color of an LED to any color in the entire RGB spectrum. Whether it is yellow, red, orange, violet or magenta, you can choose any color you like. Not only that, you can do this entire process from the comfort of your home, your holiday resort or any location on planet earth. All you need is a smartphone and a few other components.
The basic flow of information for this LED color changing system is from an Android app called Colour Picker. You can select a color for your LED from this app. The information then goes to a simple web server on an Arduino chip via an HTTP request. The Arduino chip process this request and then lights up the LED, which is connected to the output channel of the Arduino.
More info available at https://www.survivingwithandroid.com/2016/03/how-to-control-leds-connected-to-arduino-using-androidd-app.html
Create a live feed of temperature inside a room
You can now use a sensor and two IoT chips to create a temperature monitoring system which can be accessed anywhere in the world. This is a really simple setup and it will not require a lot of time. All you have to do is get a temperature sensor (LM35) and connect it to an Arduino Pro Mini. The Arduino receives info from the temperature sensor in analog form, using one of the analog input channels. It then sends this info to an ESP8266 chip, which is a WiFi compatible chip. The ESP8266 sends the temperature info to a website called thingspeak.com.
You can now monitor the temperature of your garden, your storage room or any other place using your smartphone. You could be sitting at your office, in your car, or in a foreign country. You can always open a web browser, go to thingspeak.com and get the temperature info on demand.
More info on this simple yet effective project is available on the link below:
Smart Door System
Having kids around can mean that doors tend to be left open. There is no worse feeling than to wake up one morning and realize that the garage door or the main door had been left open the previous night. Luckily, IoT can help overcome this problem. You can design a system which alerts you, just before you go to bed, if any of the doors are left open. You can even control the opening and closing of the doors using your smartphone. An added layer of security can be included by having a fingerprint sensor, which will open the door only when an authorized fingerprint matches.
To design this system, you need an Adafruit WiFi module, an Arduino chip, the Blynk app, an LED, a fingerprint scanner/sensor, and some relays. The basic idea is that you use the Blynk app to give the command for door opening or closing. The signal from the app goes to the Adafruit module via the internet and then onto the Arduino chip. The Arduino processes the signal and then activates a relay to open/close the door. An LED will notify you if a door has remained open. This notification can also be received on your phone since everything is connected to the internet via the Adafruit module.
Get more info on this project by visiting the link below:
Smart Pill Bottle
Telemedicine and technology in healthcare are increasingly undergoing innovation. Healthcare, in general, can go to the next level by eliminating certain inefficiencies in the entire healthcare system of current times. One example of technological innovation in healthcare is the smart pill bottle. It uses certain electronics to monitor the number of times pills are taken, the times of the day when they were taken, and the number of pills left before a refill would be needed.
This unique design of a pill bottle system is so small that it fits in the bottle cap itself. You need an IR sensor, a small LiPo battery to drive the circuit, an ESP8266 WiFi chip, and other basic components.
The ESP8266 can transmit the data onto the internet and to a cloud-based server. All this data can be monitored by a doctor or a trained medical professional. Such patient and medical data can greatly help in preventing and curing illnesses and identifying patterns for future breakthroughs and process innovations.
More info about this system is available on the link below:
Efficient Garbage Collection System
Most civic bodies around the world collect garbage in a very centralized and planned manner. They have a fixed route and a fixed schedule (weekly) to pick up garbage. They will collect garbage regardless of whether the garbage can is filled or not. Such an approach not only leads to wasted time but also waste of fuel and unnecessary costs.
With IoT, there is a way to optimize the entire process. Your smartphone can gather information on how full a garbage can is using sonar waves. This information can then be transmitted to a cloud or a central online location using GPRS or cell phone network. This data can then be shared with the civic authorities, and allow them to plan the garbage pick-up process in the most efficient way. Read more about this system on the link below. It also talks about how you can monitor the activity of garbage vehicles so as to prevent laziness and corruption on the side of the civic authorities.
Lowest cost automatic blinds
Wouldn’t it be cool to control the opening and closing of your window blinds via your smartphone? It is sure to impress your friends. You could be sitting on the couch or sleeping on your bed, and without getting up or moving around, your blinds can open and shut themselves with just the push of a button. You can take that thought even further by operating your blinds remotely from your office, your weekend getaway or from an altogether different country!
Automatic blinds can be easily built using a NODEMCU WiFi chip, a servo motor, and some other materials. The link below has a video which explains the entire designing process. It also claims to be the lowest cost design of an automated blind system. Check it out.
Phone-based baggage tracking
This project is one of the coolest in this entire list. You can use your phone to track your bags while traveling. Lost luggage is one of the big pain points of air travel. While existing baggage systems in various airports are quite advanced, there is still a small chance that your luggage can get misplaced or lost. You can find yourself some peace of mind by designing this simple yet effective baggage tracking system.
This system uses an Adafruit module which communicates via GSM network with your phone. It also uses an Arduino chip which controls the Adafruit module, a battery, a SIM card for your phone, an antenna and some other components. All the data of the bag can be sent to thingspeak.com and an entire map of your bag’s route can be laid out on that website. So you can track and analyze data for multiple bags across multiple trips and figure out best practices and other stuff.
One thing to keep in mind, the security or the TSA might give you some stick for having suspicious looking electronics in your bags. So be prepared to explain what your bag contains if anyone asks you questions. Otherwise, feel free to check the link below for more info on designing this system and start tracking your bags!