The Internet of Things is one of the most exciting trending technologies.
You can turn any device into a smart device using a Raspberry Pi, basic electronics, and code.
This means you can have it perform functions without your input.
Here are 5 ideas for automating things with a Raspberry Pi:
- Motion Detector and Camera for Security
- Garden Care and Monitoring
- Home Automation
- Gesture-based Remote Control
- Smart Thermometer and Temperature Control
Bonus: Voice-based Remote Control
Let’s take a look at all these varied projects and see just how powerful the Raspberry Pi can be and get your home and office automated.
1. Motion Detector and Camera for Security
This is a neat project that combines security features with the programming ability of the Raspberry Pi to collect data in the form of images or short videos.
You’ll need a Raspberry Pi, Raspberry Pi Camera Module, PIR motion sensor module, and three or more female-to-female jumper wires.
After connecting the PIR sensor and camera to the Raspberry Pi, you’ll need to set up the code.
This can be done by following the project on the Raspberry Pi website, which also contains a sample code to use.
You can then set up your module so that every time it records motion, it will take a photo or video and send it to your device.
Once it’s set up, you have essentially built your own smart doorbell or security camera to watch over specific entrances or check when people enter your home.
Another option is to use this setup alongside a smart lock, enabling access for guests or visitors.
The Wyze’s WiFi Smart Door Lock from Amazon.com can be linked to your Raspberry Pi with ease to enable remote unlocking or routine-based unlocking.
Reading tip: 9 Best Ways To Use a Raspberry Pi in Your Smart Home
2. Garden Care and Monitoring
You can use a Raspberry Pi with a moisture sensor to help monitor soil moisture levels and turn on sprinklers as desired.
This can be a great way to make sure your lawn is well-watered as well as not falling afoul of any sprinkler or water restrictions.
Setting up garden care and monitoring requires WiFi to collect data and upload to the cloud while allowing you to control the sprinkler system while you’re away from home.
The sensors can be installed in your garden or even pot plants and upload vital data on the health of your plants. For example, you can remotely check temperature and humidity.
The setup can then work together with a watering plan that starts the sprinkler system should the temperature get too high or any other condition you set.
An automated system means that your garden gets water when it needs it and won’t turn the sprinklers on during blocked-out times to ensure compliance with any sprinkler restrictions.
You can also log and graph this data to monitor water usage and the general health of your garden, viewable from anywhere.
Further functionality can be programmed in, for example giving reminders to change plant position, check for diseases at certain times of the year, and many other routines.
You might also be interested in: Do Robot Lawn Mowers Work on Hills? 3 Amazing Mower Facts
3. Home Automation
A Raspberry Pi can be great at turning all your electronics into smart devices.
Instead of getting up and pressing physical buttons to turn on your devices or find the remote to change the channel, you can power it all from one place.
One of the more common ways to get a Raspberry Pi working for you is to set up home automation plans.
This has been a big selling point for Amazon’s Alexa. Known as Alexa Routines from Amazon.com, these are several actions grouped that you can prompt via a single keystroke.
Routines are supposed to take the drudgery out of everyday life.
It can also have cost benefits as it enables you to check that all lights and appliances are off, stopping electricity costs from piling up.
For example, you may use a routine that helps you get out of bed in the morning.
Programming a morning routine might include switching on the bedroom light and heater or A/C, and starting a playlist.
There are preset, fully-coded options that you can download the code for various home automation routines.
These can be modified using the code itself and changing the variables.
The simple routines may be time-based, in that they turn appliances off or on based on the time.
You can take this project further to include cameras and motion detectors to add further steps or actions to the routine.
Once you’ve got the hang of adding devices to be controlled by your Raspberry Pi, you can have very involved routines or automation plans.
This may be a routine for coming home, setting up your house so that everything is ready when you walk through the door.
For example, the ice maker powers on, the climate control system begins to run, making the house comfortable, and the oven warms up.
4. Gesture-Based Remote Control
You can use hand gestures in conjunction with a hand tracking program connecting via a Raspberry Pi.
Here’s a video about this that you may watch:
While advanced users have shown a working model using a pair of glasses, placing the sensor in the main room is a better choice for most people.
You can have gesture-activated systems using this set up. For example, a swipe left enables you to turn on the TV, stereo system, and dim the lights to watch a movie.
A swipe right brightens the lights and pauses whatever media you’re playing, enabling a bathroom break.
Depending on the hand tracking software you use, you can use it to trigger devices to turn on or off.
You may also use it to initiate routines like lighting zones for a bedtime routine.
5. Smart Thermometer and Temperature Control
You can use the Raspberry Pi to build a digital thermometer.
The thermometer will monitor temperature through internet connectivity and allow the data to be collected and viewed remotely.
You can use an infrared temperature sensor for more range, or you can use a standard temperature sensor that utilizes probes.
I recommend using modules for the Raspberry Pi like Comidox 3.3V-5V DHT11 from Amazon.com.
This product will run off the Raspberry Pi itself and also detect humidity.
This can be useful when room temperature needs to be controlled, for example, in wine cellars, greenhouses, and other use cases.
You may set it up so that a certain temperature threshold means you get a warning emailed to you.
It may also mean that an air conditioner starts to cool the room or the heat turns down.
Such a process could be augmented by a camera, enabling you to have a live stream of the area once you get a warning notification.
Using sensors and automation can prevent constant physical checking or monitoring of a critical area while still having peace of mind.
Learn more: Are smart thermostats universal?
Bonus: Voice-Based Remote Control
The rise in popularity of digital assistants has spurred people to make their own using a Raspberry Pi.
A voice-activated digital assistant requires a microphone and speaker to hear your commands and let you know what it’s doing.
Once you’ve built your own system, you can access other automation routines and programs using your voice-activated Raspberry Pi.
Making a voice-based remote control powered by a Raspberry Pi gives quick, hands-free access to your entire automation system and can be a fancy system to show off to your friends.
This enables real-time monitoring of your security system, checking who’s at the door, turning appliances off or on remotely, or just getting the latest weather update without having to get up.