Case Closed: ARIoT 2019

7-9. mars ble årets Arctic Internet of Things Challenge avholdt. Itera var representert ved Audun Sætherø, Martin Joakim Ulstein, Tom Eirik Slettahjell, Annie Aasen, Eirik Isene, Nils Herde og Marianne Melhoos.  

ARIoT 2019 has come to an end, and what a blast it has been! From 09.00 Thursday morning until 15.00 Saturday we have been hacking, printing, gluing, building, fixing, testing, fixing again, and testing again. The hours flew past so quickly it seemed as though we barely got started.

We arrived on Thursday with a few boxes of assorted (but absolutely not sorted) wires, boards, and gadgets, along with a suitcase, a 3D-printer, and some other useful tools. Our goal for the weekend was to create the traveller’s dream, a self-moving smart suitcase that will make travelling the world a breeze! The plan was to fit the suitcase with a multitude of sensors providing useful data as you’re on the go. In addition, we were going to create a beautiful app to display the data from the sensors, remote control the wheels of the suitcase, and even set the content of a digital luggage tag!

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The result was nothing less than magnificent. We had, in fact, built every traveller’s dream, and I am certain that when these babies hit the market they will be in such high demand that we can’t possibly produce enough on time (seeing as we spend roughly 96 hours per unit…). Without further ado, let’s dive into the specifics of the marvellous suitcase.

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An important part of the product is the ability to control the various features via the accompanying app. To accomplish this, we used a Raspberry Pi as a communication hub to which we connected various Arduino devices. The Pi was set up with WireGuard, ensuring that only devices on the same VPN would be able to communicate with the suitcase, thus resolving one of the biggest issues with IoT, the security. With the VPN in place, connected users could control the suitcase from virtually anywhere in the world as long as the suitcase is connected to the internet. The Raspberry Pi exposes a REST-API which further communicates with the various features on the suitcase, mostly Arduino-driven.

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An excellent feature for the lazy is the ability to remote control the suitcase which in fact has two motorized wheels allowing for 360º maneuverability. This was accomplished by connecting two 12V motorized wheels to the side of the suitcase, each controlled through an Arduino receiving signals from the aforementioned Raspberry Pi. The accompanying app features a page with arrow-buttons allowing a simple press to replace the hassle of having to drag your suitcase behind you, making for a pleasant and relaxing travel.

Some good news for the photogenic travellers is the camera mounted on top of the suitcase. No longer do you have to ask strangers to take your picture, you can simply drive the suitcase off into the distance and snap a picture of yourself through the accompanying app. If your suitcase is lost, this can even be used to get an image of where your suitcase might be, maybe even catching those pesky TSA screeners in the act of rummaging through your suitcase.

For the more paranoid travellers, a lock is mounted onto the side of the suitcase, fully equipped with an RFID sensor which in turn locks and unlocks the suitcase at the tap of a card. Only RFID-enabled cards which are added to the whitelist will trigger locking and unlocking, ensuring that only pre-approved people have access, while allowing the flexibility of granting your travel partner or family members access should the need arise. A feature we outlined for a future version 2.0 of the case is the ability to use factial recognition for unlocking, using the on-board camera.

Another neat feature for those that are constantly changing addresses is the small programmable luggage tag on the side of the suitcase. The days of writing down your address on a luggage tag and manually attaching it are over, now you can simply change the name and address by opening up the app and editing a text field. And speaking of addresses, the suitcase even tells you where it is via geolocation. So the next time your suitcase gets lost somewhere along the way, you can check to see if its nearby, or if it’s long gone and the time has come to cash in some money from your travel insurance and go on a shopping spree.

Ever angsty of what you might find when you finally arrive at the hotel and open up your suitcase? Did the toothpaste explode and smear all over your clothes, is the shampoo bottle emptied on you last pair of clean trousers? Unfortunately, the suitcase can’t help with this, but it can relieve you of the pain of not knowing by constantly keeping you up to date on the climate inside the suitcase with its equipped humidity sensor, temperature sensor, CO2 sensor, and other sensors. All of this data is neatly displayed in the app making it possible to catch a leak before it gets too bad.

Another great sensor to have on a suitcase is a weight sensor, and guess what, this suitcase has exactly that! No more guessing whether your suitcase is within the required weight range, simply place it on its side, open the app, and check for yourself.

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You might think we are done, but there is actually one more feature left, and this feature is perfect for the shy traveller. We have installed an awesome button which, when pressed, emits sounds of rain covering up the sound of you going to the toilet! When travelling it is often necessary to use public restrooms, and if this isn’t an awesome feature for just those cases, then what is?

As you now realize, this suitcase really is a traveller’s best friend. Something you might not have guessed is that it was made almost entirely of people with little to no prior experience with IoT. Annie Aasen, our team leader, and Marianne Melhoos were the only two who had been at ARIoT before, thus having some experience with IoT. The rest of the team comprised of Martin Joakim Ulstein, Audun Sætherø, Nils Herde, Tom Eirik Slettahjel, and myself; Eirik Isene. We had barely any experience with these kind of things but still managed to produce an excellent product!

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We came with eager minds and left excited with new knowledge and a lot of good memories of a great weekend with fun technology, awesome people, great food, and a bunch of badges.

See you again next year, Ariot!