Pi IoT Smarter Spaces Design Challenge


My entry for the challenge won first place! Check the announcement here!

For the past three months, I have been spending my spare time by participating in a blogging competition alongside fourteen other finalists, in an attempt to make a control unit for IoT devices, based on the Raspberry Pi 3. The Pi IoT Smarter Spaces Design Challenge, organised by element14, sponsored by EnOcean and Duratool and in association with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, is now over and in judging phase.

In this post I will briefly explain the project, the resulting builds and provide links to all the information created during this challenge.


The goal of the challenge was to “Build your own personal Internet of Things (IoT) command center to control any living space – connecting your favourite gear and smart technologies.”. To do this, fifteen finalists were selected based on their project proposal to receive a kit containing various Raspberry Pi related boards, add-ons, sensors, etc …The full kit is listed on element14, but contained among other things: a Raspberry Pi 3, touch screen, camera module v2 and Sense HAT. The only part required to be used was the Raspberry Pi 3.

My proposal was to create not one, but two smart devices: an alarm clock and a control unit for the living room.

The alarm clock would serve as, well, an alarm clock and would be voice controlled. A basic display would show the time, another display would show symbols with a specific meaning. The control unit would make use of the same voice control capabilities, but in addition, add a touch screen capable of visualising historic sensor data, camera feeds, etc …


After three months of spending about every bit of spare time I had, while still moving house in the process, this is the result:

Note: the displays are blurrier in the video than they actually are in real life, this is most likely due to the lighting conditions or the camera.

The device on the left is the alarm clock, the one on the right is the control unit. There is also a third device: a connected key holder, reporting the presence of keys to the control unit.

All enclosures are custom made, partly using my ShapeOko 2 CNC, partly table saw and handheld router. I picked a combination of light wood and white acrylic, which I found at the local hardware store. Behind the white acrylic are displays and LEDs that get slightly diffused, creating a nice glowy effect. There are other devices which were created as part of this challenge, which are not meant to be visible: an energy monitoring device and a camera feed, both using a Raspberry Pi Zero.

On the software side of things, I decided to use OpenHAB 2 for the sensor data collection, automated triggers, and user interface. For voice control, PocketSphinx for STT and Flite for TTS.

If you’d like to know more about the project, from installing and configuring the software to building the enclosures, head over to element14 and check out my project’s index page with links to every post created as part of the challenge.



© Frederick Vandenbosch, 2014-2021. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Frederick Vandenbosch with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.