In order to spark your imagination, we have put together a use case for each individual sensor. This way, you can start to come up with your own IoT applications to make your daily life or work more efficient.
Temperature Sensor: Display Case (Vitrine)
Oftentimes, a product needs to be stored or displayed in a controlled environment. Temperature is one of the factors that can be controlled. For example, when a perishable product needs to be refrigerated, it may be critical to know when the temperature rises unwillingly, and the person or machine controlling the temperature may need to receive an alert about that. For this, we have developed two functions in the starter kit:
Light Sensor: Greenhouses
In The Netherlands, a large proportion of food locally consumed and exported, is produced in greenhouses. To boost the growth of many crops, indoor lighting can be used to stimulate photosynthesis. Imagine if it would be possible to automate the functioning of this indoor lighting and to track its use, all with just one sensor! With a light sensor it is possible to measure the intensity of light in an environment, and based on this measurement artificial lighting can be switched on at the right brightness. Additionally, it is possible to measure the amount of time that it has been light in the greenhouse, to determine when the lights can be switched off.
Ultrasonic Ranger: Level sensor
As makers, this is our favorite sensor! The way it works is really cool. Using sound waves, it measures its distance from an object. This is achieved by sending out a sound and measuring the time for that sound to bounce off the object in front of it and return to the in-build microphone in the sensor. This sensor can be used to make an automatic parking device for your car, that beeps louder, the closer you get to the car or wall behind you. Alternatively, it could be used to measure the level of the garbage in a dustbin, to alert the garbage disposal companies when they must empty the bin. Similarly, it could be used to measure the level of a river or lake, and send out warnings when it is nearing the level that would cause a flood.
Tilt Sensor: Monitoring bridges
We have grown used to apps that help us plan the optimal route when we need to drive from point A to point B. However, you may have noticed that one factor has not yet been accounted for and still causes unexpected delays: Bridges. If you need to drive over a bridge that is frequently opened because it needs to allow boats to pass through it, you sometimes need to wait 20 minutes, which may even be over 50% of your journey time. With the tilt sensor, it is possible to measure whether an object has been rotated from its starting position through the vertical plane, triggering an alert (or as we call it, an interrupt) that sends a message to the internet. A tilt sensor has a mechanical element inside that activates a trigger whenever the metal ball inside passes by a magnet. By knowing whether a bridge is open, the navigation apps we use can re-route us and save us a lot of valuable time.
PIR Motion Sensor: Trespasser Detection
Beware burglars and trespassers! With a state of the art passive infrared (PIR) motion sensor it is easy to detect motion. You have probably already seen this sensor in use in office buildings for switching lights on automatically, but what is less commonly known is that this sensor is used widely to quietly catch trespassers. By scanning infrared light, the sensor can detect a human or any other warm object moving past it. Of course, this can also be interesting when taking photographs of wildlife with an automated camera that only takes a photo when there is an animal in the frame. Alternatively, it can be used to count people passing by it, or to see if an office is occupied or not.
Buzzer: Sound the alarm!
Besides sensors, we have also included an actuator. This is a module that is controlled by the microcontroller on the SODAQ SARA board. In this case, the actuator is a buzzer, which is similar to a speaker but is more straightforward to control as you can instruct it to make sounds at specific tones, frequencies and even set the duration of each sound. With this, you could for example make a notification bell that tells kids that it is time for recess at school. Alternatively, it could be linked to a sensor and rather than only providing the warning to the user by sending a warning over NB-IoT to the cloud, an immediate warning could be given with a sound (a ‘buzz’). In the standard software included with the board you will hear a tone when a data package is sent to the cloud.
Positioning technology has been advancing rapidly over the past few years. We can now determine the position of an object to a few meters accuracy even with the cheapest GPS modules. Thanks to the intelligence inside the u-blox GPS module, the time and status of all satellites in the GPS system (almanac) is remembered and therefore a position can be determined within a few seconds. By sending this data over NB-IoT, the tracker can be located almost immediately. With the included solar panel and battery, this tracker can work indefinitely and you can keep track of your goods wherever they go.