M.A.D winner EDDI Systems on tackling California’s drought

Editor’s note: Last year, Samsung launched the Makers Against Drought Challenge, asking developers to focus their skills on using the Internet of Things (IoT) and Samsung ARTIK to help solve the challenges posed by California’s drought. Over 500 ideas were submitted from more than 40 countries. The best ideas were selected to receive ARTIK developer kits and flesh out their ideas in preliminary and final stages. The winners were Team EDDI (formerly known as The Water Warriors), a New York-based team who developed a water desalination machine for use in crop irrigation. In this blog post, the team describe their journey to winning the Challenge. 

EDDI team assembles the deviceIn the early months of the Samsung Makers Against Drought Challenge, we began our journey as a small group of friends who care deeply about solving global problems with technology. We were enthusiastic about the challenge of using Samsung ARTIK to develop a solution to California’s drought problem, and passionate about the chance to make a real difference.

We researched and brainstormed for weeks, ultimately discovering that water quality was a major problem for agriculture that rode on the back of the drought. It became obvious to us that the solution to this was desalination, the process of removing salt from water. By controlling the amount of salt in the water, the amount of water needed for irrigation could be reduced dramatically.

We named our project the Electrodialysis Desalinator for Irrigation (EDDI for short), and the ARTIK 10 developer board would function as the brain of our machine.

How the Samsung ARTIK Supports Our Idea

When we looked into implementing our design, we found that the ARTIK board had all the necessary components to support our vision. It came with onboard Wi-Fi hardware and software needed to receive commands from and send sensor data to our cloud server. The multitude of inputs and the powerful processor allowed us to monitor multiple sensors at once, improving the effectiveness and efficiency of our machine. The digital outputs enabled us to control several valves, and fine-tune the control of the electrical field in the desalination stack with a PWM output, which was the biggest improvement to the efficiency of our process. All of these features combined to give EDDI a serious edge in desalination efficiency, which ultimately means a lower cost for farmers.

Working With the Samsung ARTIK

the EDDI towerWorking with ARTIK has been not only fun, but also a great learning experience. It was easy for us to get started since the operating system was Linux. It came with a “sysfs” virtual file system that made the process of reading and setting pin values simple. When we did hit a problem or had any questions, the ARTIK support team was eager to help.

What made it fun was how powerful ARTIK is. It allowed us to program in JavaScript because it could run the most up-to-date version of Node.js. After seeing the Resin.io presentation at the Samsung Developer Conference, we decided to check out their product on ARTIK. Resin.io allows ARTIK to run VPN tunnels and Docker containers so we can deploy code remotely and iterate quickly, which helped us tremendously in the second round. This combination gave EDDI an updatable and reliable brain.

What This Win Means To Us

Participating in this challenge meant so much to us, both as a team of friends and as a group of passionate technologists. Winning is more than we could have imagined! Every member of our team has worked tirelessly to make the EDDI a reality, so being recognized for our efforts feels amazing. We’re so grateful to the Samsung team for giving us the opportunity to prove to ourselves what we can do, and to show the world that IoT is the next step to solving complex world problems. We look forward to making more improvements to EDDI and eventually working with farmers to field-test and validate EDDI.

Special Thanks

We have to give many thanks to the people who have put up with our crazy schedules and requests to make EDDI a reality.

  • Samsung, for starting and organizing the competition that began this journey.
  • Chidi Dibia, for coordinating the hackathon and all of the difficult shipping and travel plans that we had throughout the months of finals.
  • Columbia MakerSpace, for providing us with the access to the tools and machines we needed to sculpt the body of EDDI.
  • Professor Ngai Yin Yip, for shedding light on the intricate science behind desalination.
  • Alice Wong, for being cool with an obstacle course in her living room for the year-long birth of EDDI.
  • The DIY Reddit Community, for the inspiration to do some wire management.
  • Richard Gavarian and Gregory Gavarian, for sharing their knowledge about circuitry.
  • Hang Xu, for navigating Chinese industrial markets to help us acquire the membranes.
  • Hampton Chutney, for the needed fuel to keep us running throughout the night.
  • We would also like to give special thanks to Denise Sison, Helen’s parents, Ari Mintz, Peter Jackson, and Tony Lafleur.