The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a trendy phenomenon with anything ranging from wearable devices, smart home appliances to smart sensors. The momentum just seems to be getting stronger and stronger and the possibility is only limited by creativity. With a goal to promote ARM-based technology and as a platform to incubate next-generation of ARM IC designers and entrepreneurs, ARM Taiwan has been engaging with local universities and research labs to host Cortex-M design contests, called Code-O-Rama, since 2006. This is an opportunity for students to work with industry-leading technologies / tools and the experience will be quite close to a real product design cycle in a commercial company.
This year marks the 8th ARM Code-O-Rama design contest and the design topic was "Innovate Your Smart Life with ARM". With CIC (National Chip Implementation Center of Taiwan) and STMicroelectronics Taiwan as co-sponsors, we attracted 82 design teams with more than 150 students from top local universities / research labs to participate in this contest. Each team was given a free STM32F417 evaluation board (courtesy of STMicroelectronics), 6 months license to ARM RVMDK development tool and a training course on how to use these tools. It was then up to each team to come up with creative product ideas on how they can use technology to make our everyday life better.
I was fortunate enough to be invited as one of the judges on the final round of design contest this year. With a total of 11 teams in the final phase of the competition, I worked with 5 other judges to determine the top 3 design wins. We evaluated each submission based upon originality, practical application, software / hardware implementation and most importantly live demonstration. After a long, but fulfilling day going thru the final presentations and live demos by each team, it is fair to say we had reached our consensus on the best designs.
The first prize winner went to a team of students from the electrical engineering and mechanical engineering departments at the National Taiwan University on their creation of "digital piano learning system" and this was also my favorite design. The idea behind this design was for people who want to play piano, but cannot read staff notation. Thru a complementary PC program that would convert any MIDI file into raw data and the system, powered by Cortex-M4, would display notes on the LED display panel. The player could simply play the keys as the notes drop to the bottom of the display. By connecting to the MIDI output of the digital piano, the system also implemented a scoring system by checking how timely and accurately the player has played the song. Now, this could be a perfect holiday gift idea.
The 2nd place winner was a team from the department of electronic and computer engineering at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology and they aimed to improve the Taipei U-Bike system, a city-sponsored bike rental system that has proven to be immensely popular with visitors and residents alike. Using the CAN bus interface and a new connector design, the team wanted to improve the storage efficiency at each U-Bike station. They have also developed a mobile App that should make bike reservation easier. The mobile App could also display bike status information (e.g. mileages, speed, route, etc.) collected by the onboard Cortex-M4 system.
The 3rd place prize went to a team of students also from the mechanical engineering department at the National Taiwan University on their design of "personal moving robot". The user would equip himself or herself with an infrared source and the robot would track and follow the signal source at a safe distance. Using ultrasonic technology and the navigation program running at the onboard Cortex-M4 system, the robot would try to detect and avoid obstacles on its path. Instead of doing the heavy lifting work yourself, this little fellow would carry it for you and follow you to your destination. I certainly would love to have a little helper like this.
While I have only shown the top 3 winners from this year's contests, the other submissions were also very interesting with applications ranging from home automation to taxi infotainment. With a bit of onboard computing power and lots of creativities, these students have shown us a glimpse of how our life could be made better with ARM technology. So, how would you innovate your life with ARM?