Win $90k to Help Solve the California Drought

Earlier this week, we announced a new open software and data aggregation cloud called the SmartThings Open Cloud. As part of this announcement, Samsung has launched a series of tiny chips called ARTIK to help developers and device makers create programmable devices and expand the open Internet of Things.

To highlight the potential that ARTIK and the SmartThings Open Cloud has to help drive innovation and positive change, Samsung is launching Makers Against Drought: a four-month competition inviting makers to submit solutions that help combat the water shortage in California.

Learn more below, and register for the ARTIK Challenge here!

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  1. All my ideas for the just passed Internet of Things World Event hackathon were water saving related… None of the participants went in this direction. I tried to form a team, but one young man from Germany dismissed the entire topic by saying California has plenty of water if we just invested in solar powered desalination. Sigh. Perhaps children are not our future?

    Regardless, anyone who would like to explore ideas with me, please let me know! We can do it!

    • I think it’s fair to say that the young German lad was misinformed.

      • Yup. The use of desalination is a common “dismissive” narrative in many drought conversations. Of course, many options need to be on the table — we are literally in a crisis. Positive “encouragement challenges” like this one from Samsung are an excellent way to ferret out unique solutions.

        • As someone who actually works in water infrastructure with an unspecified, above referenced, public utility, let me tell you desalination is THE most expensive way to get water. RO greywater is what is already happening in SoCal (lookup groundwater injection of recycled water), and its the way we will have to go. In the meantime agriculture is suffering dramatically.

          • Maybe we can find a way to use these chips to convince the state and local governments not to allow companies like Nestle to bottle soft drinks with California water and ship those to the convenience stores near me in Texas and other places around the country…

          • That would definitely be a qualifying idea for the contest. I’m 100% serious. The criteria is using ARTIK to save water. If that means using ARTIK to send a text message to your district legislators everytime a bottle of water is sold (or whatever helps achieve your goal), then that would be excellent. Let me know if you’d like to team up.

          • :) I was being snarky by commenting. There are water level sensors already at play. NASA has satellite imaging showing reservoir levels over time and even more hard data. The problem is that politicians don’t give a crap because they are bought and sold and land use rights are on the table… There is big money for campaign contributions and other palm greasing, and what those companies are doing, while NOT in the public interest, is perfectly legal. I’m sure Nestle’s solution would be just to have Californians buy Nestle water to bathe and drink… Even if the amount of water used was (maybe is) public record, it still wont shock them into motion. I will GUARANTEE that no amount of gadgetry is going to fix this problem until there are some dire consequences. The majority of this country is asleep, and any whiz bang doodad no matter how cool, only captivates the public for so long unless it appeals to their ego. That’s why non eco-smart cars like the Prius are so popular in “green” cities. Think about the supply chain on one of those things, you really thing the carbon savings add up to anything, if not being less efficient than say a diesel jetta or you standard corolla? I seeeeriously doubt it. All that lithium mining, shipping, lamination, shipping… hell parts from those cars travel around the world several times over and they aren’t even cheap. you don’t buy it to save gas, you buy it to feel good about yourself. If you can somehow create a device that will make people feel good about themselves or make them look better than everyone else and that leads to saving water, that will be the thing that succeeds. Maybe an ultrasonic steam shower with heat recovery drain traps that can clean you with a quart of water (why not?) or a gray water recycler that flow meters against incoming supply to tell you how much water you saved, etc, etc, tie it all together in one big “im greener than you app” maybe gamify it, bring it to the level of “farmville” or some such crap. People eat that stuff up.

          • Hi Robert … Oh — BTW: Even when I’m “serious”, I’m still often facetious and snarky too.

            This ARTIK challenge is very interesting mental fwap. Any solutions created within the parameters of the challenge are “highly likely” to have negligible potential water-savings impact given that we are in a late-stage drought. I fully expect some creative “ounce of prevention” ideas (my idea included) … unfortunately, California needs “ton of cure”, and, indeed, that is the stuff that can only come from (a) well run government and/or (b) highly incentivized private sector initiatives that California is, as of now, unwilling to pay for.

          • man I don’t even want to think how much water my drinking water RO system wastes doing what it does. I’d love to find a use for the brine discharge and also an affordable way of doing something with it.. Perhaps gardening but I wonder what kind of minerals or whatever might result as buildup over time. Maybe Cali and everywhere really, needs to RE-THINK plumbing. When was the last time we really did? Roman times? The flush toilet? When I go to places like Redmond and Mountain View (I’m an IT guy), I see three rubbish bins… Not just “trash and recycle” I see “landfill”, “compost”, “recycle”… Sometimes I get mental lock deciding between recycle and compost.. Perhaps we need 3 sewers.. storm drains, sewage and gray water… Infrastructure is always good for the economy but good luck convincing lawmakers to spend any money on it. we’ve got a number of bridges ready to fall down and nobody seems to take heed until someone dies. I know, I know, I’m ever an optimist. Someone called me an apocaloptimist the other day. It’s about right.

  2. It’s just obvious we need to dam off the water from the Colorado River before it flows into the ocean.


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