Inspiration

With IoT becoming more popular, we wanted to create a way for users of all types to be able to connect their home to the internet cheaply. Particle Photons run about ~$20 each, which can add up quickly when connecting multiple devices.

What it does

PickyHome aims to allow users to connect multiple objects to the internet with only one Particle Photon. This works by using IR relays, which are much cheaper than using multiple photons. The IR relays are connected to our demo lamps, and turns on when the Photon signals it. Our web app will allow the user to control their IoT device from their PC or mobile device. The user can also monitor the temperature and energy usage in their apartments. An easy to read chart will show the user real time data coming from the sensors, and will allow for user input to calculate the expected price of the user's energy bill. This allows the users to be more mindful of their energy usage to avoid unexpected charges.

How we built it

We tried to take as much advantage of free services as we could to build our project. This included using a free Heroku dyno to host our server and mLab to host our MongoDB database. The web application was built with Node.js on the back-end using the Express framework and HTML/CSS (Bootstrap) and JavaScript on the front-end. The Photon periodically took sensor readings and sent it to our server in a POST request, where it would then be written into our database. It could also retrieve that data to make graphs of the sensor readings over time, as well as calculate the total estimated energy costs. For the hardware side, we used a killawatt to read the changes in current from the power strip. From there, we sent the data over to our data base to be plotted using highcharts. The lights communicated with our photon using IR relays. The photon acted as a hub in all of this, and connected everything to our web app.

Challenges we ran into

We were a bit too ambitious in the beginning, and couldn't get to everything we set out for. We had a plan to incorporate the ability to parse voice input into commands that could control the various devices in the home, but that fell short as we later realized the added difficulty of that task. Also, some of the hardware didn't end up working as well as we were hoping it would.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We made a hack consisting of hardware and software in a non trivial manner. Our team learned a lot during this process. Also, staying up for the majority of a 24-hour period is no easy task, and we're proud to have been able to continue working hard throughout that time.

What we learned

Our first time hacker team member learned basic web development (ie HTML, CSS, Bootstrap) Other team members gained familiarity with MongoDB and hardware.

What's next for PickyHome

We would love to be able to successfully add the voice commands feature to the project and fix up some other software issues. Also, there were some hardware related issues that could be improved upon.

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