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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we interact with people, things, and the world around us. We’re calling on the community to use an Arduino Nano or MKR board to build solutions that can help us practice better social distancing, improve queue management, or enable touch-free technologies.

Stepping out from our homes, to go to schools, factories, offices and pursue leisure pastimes all these will need to change as lockdown restrictions are eased. With terms like social distancing, remote learning and remote working becoming the norm, let’s see how your ideas can help the world move forward and rebuild everyday life based on a project in one of these two categories.


Category 1: Touch-Free

Create a solution that can be applied to devices that currently rely upon manually pushing a button e.g. elevators, pedestrian crossings, door entry systems, sanitizer dispensers, etc.


Category 2: Social Distance Enablement and Tracking

Create a solution that will allow individuals to maintain the recommended distance apart (1m to 2m) to safely work in the office, factory, commute to work on public transport, or socially interact in cafes and parks. The time people spend within close proximity to each other may also be a factor considered within the design.

N.B. The purpose of the competition is to create products and solutions that are ready to help people around the world to move forward with their lives and safely emerge from lockdown restrictions, rather than developing medical devices.

Contest Scope and Schedule

As any potential solution may be required to operate in a variety of environments, important factors to consider as part of the design process are reliability, durability, connectivity, and power management — hence the option to base your project on any Arduino Nano or MKR board.

The Arduino MKR Family represents the ideal solution for emerging battery powered IoT edge applications. All of the MKR boards share a common pinout for developers to easily shift between wireless communication protocols with minimal software changes, and in a cost efficient manner.

The Arduino Nano Family offers a tiny format, powerful processors and excellent reliability. All of the Nano boards can run embedded machine learning (AI).

The challenge is organized in two phases:

Phase 1: Apply for hardware — Deadline June 16th, 2020: Submit your idea and have the opportunity to receive a free Arduino MKR WiFi 1010.

Phase 2: Submit your project — Deadline July 14th, 2020: Submit your project for a chance to win up to $10,000 worth of prizes!


We are giving away tens of thousands of dollars in prizes to the top five projects, including product assessment and marketing support to bring your project to market! Our judges are going to pick the best qualifying projects based on the judging criteria outlined in the rules section.

Grand Prize

$5,000 voucher for hardware on the Newark online store
$750 of pre-manufacturing assessment with Dragon Innovation
$5,000 towards product marketing with


1st Place — Touch-Free

$1,500 voucher for hardware on the Newark online store
$750 of pre-manufacturing assessment with Dragon Innovation
$3,000 towards product marketing with

2nd Place — Touch-Free

$500 voucher for hardware on the Newark online store
of pre-manufacturing assessment with Dragon Innovation
towards product marketing with

Social Distance Enablement & Tracking

1st Place — Social Distance Enablement & Tracking

$1,500 voucher for hardware on the Newark online store
$750 of pre-manufacturing assessment with Dragon Innovation
$3,000 towards product marketing with

2nd Place — Social Distance Enablement & Tracking

$500 voucher for hardware on the Newark online store
of pre-manufacturing assessment with Dragon Innovation
towards product marketing with

How will you help change the world? Join the contest now!

We’re excited to announce the launch of the Arduino MKR WAN 1310, which offers a practical and cost-effective solution for those looking to add LoRa connectivity to their projects. 

The new MKR WAN 1310 enables you to connect your sensors and actuators over long distances harnessing the power of the LoRa wireless protocol or throughout LoRaWAN networks.

This open source board can be connected to:

  • Arduino Create
  • To your own LoRa network using the Arduino Pro Gateway for LoRa 
  • To existing LoRaWAN infrastructure like The Things Network 
  • Or even to other boards using the direct connectivity mode

The latest low-power architecture has considerably improved the battery life on the MKR WAN 1310. When properly configured, the power consumption is now as low as 104uA!  It is also possible to use the USB port to supply power (5V) to the board; run the board with or without batteries – the choice is yours.

Based on the Microchip SAM D21 low-power processor and a Murata CMWX1ZZABZ LoRa module, the MKR WAN 1310 comes complete with an ECC508 crypto chip, a battery charger and 2MByte SPI Flash, as well as improved control of the board’s power consumption. 

Data logging and other OTA (Over-the-Air) functions are now possible since the inclusion of the on board 2MByte Flash. This new exciting feature will let you transfer configuration files from the infrastructure onto the board, create your own scripting commands, or simply store data locally to send it whenever the connectivity is best. While the MKR WAN 1310’s crypto chip adds further security by storing credentials and certificates in the embedded secure element.

These features make it the perfect IoT node and building block for low-power wide area IoT devices. 

The MKR WAN 1310 is available on the Arduino Store, where you’ll find complete specs and more information.

Security cameras are a great way to deter theft and vandalism, but what if the camera is out of WiFi range, or otherwise would need long cables to transmit pictures? As explained here, Tegwyn Twmffat has an interesting solution–taking advantage of neural network processing to recognize moving objects, along with a LoRa connection to sound the alarm when there is a potential problem.

Images are captured by a Raspberry Pi and camera, then processed with the help of an Intel Movidius Neural Compute Stick for identification. If it’s something of interest—a human, for example—a relatively small amount of data is transmitted to a MKR WAN 1300 base station, beeping faster and faster as the person approaches. 

As seen in the video below, it’s able to properly ignore the ‘test dog,’ while it beeps away when a person approaches! 

After deploying a remote weather station over two years ago, self-proclaimed ugly pirate Tecwyn Twmffat needed a better wireless communication solution. 

Originally, his installation used a GPRS modem to transmit data over the cellular network, and while this normally worked quite well, the module would get booted off the network during updates. Additionally, its solar panel power supply couldn’t keep up with the system during the darker months of December and January.

To solve both problems, he turned to a MKR WAN 1300 board to transmit data to a base station within range of WiFi and mains power. The base station then takes care of placing these readings on the wider Internet, which can be seen here as a series of gauges.

Now in its third version and having been tested for over two years, my weather station gets upgraded for better low power performance and data transfer reliability.

Power consumption – not a problem in the months other than December and January, but in these very dark months the solar panel, although rated at 40 Watts, was unable to keep up with the demand of the system … and most of the demand came from the 2G FONA GPRS module which transmits the data directly to the interwebs.

The next problem was with the FONA GPRS module itself, or more probably the cell phone network. The device would work perfectly for weeks / months, but then suddenly stop for no apparent reason. Apparently the network does try to send some kind of ‘system update info’ which, if not accepted, causes the device to get booted off the network, so GPRS is not really a maintenance free solution for data transmission. It’s a shame because when it did work, it worked really nicely.

This upgrade uses the low power LoRa protocol to send the data to a Raspberry Pi local server, which then will sends it on to the interwebs. In this way, the weather station itself can be low power on a solar panel and the ‘heavy lifting’ part of the process, done somewhere within WIFI range on mains power. Of course, if you have a public LoRa gateway within range, the Raspberry Pi would not be required.

Building up the weather station PCB is easy as the SMD components are all quite large (1206) and everything on the PCB works 100%. Some of the components, namely the wind instruments, are quite expensive but can sometimes be found secondhand on eBay.

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