Use a stepper to spin an ultrasonic sensor around. Read the distance values and display on a radar-like screen.
I used this one as a final project for a class.
Make a browser extension that converts large sums of money to the number of scholarships that money could fund. Have settings for what school and full ride vs full scholarship, etc.
Solve word-search puzzles. This would be really fun from an algorithmic point of view. Hard mode - use OCR to run it on paper puzzles
I was on a team that implemented this at a hackathon, link here
Build a motion detector and RF transmitter that you can set somewhere. Also build a device with an RF receiver that will vibrate/buzz/light up when the motion detector 'sees' someone. Never have someone sneak up behind you again!
Mdeicne cabinet with a magic mirror that helps you keep track of when you take your medice. Never worry about taking to much medicine while you're sick again! Could also interface with the FDA's online database to warn people of possible interactions and show potential side effects, etc.
App on your phone would track charge level, alert an Arduino/Raspberry Pi when your phone battery is full and shut off the charger with a relay. Could even track charge time and set to hit full charge right before you wake up.
Store computer data to VHS tapes.
Worked with a team to implement this at a hackathon. One of the most fun projects I've done at a hackathon. Details here
Currently Windows 10 only allows you to change what wifi networks are most preferred through powershell. Would be easy to make a GUI for it, and very useful.
One of the biggest issues with thermostats is that they only sense temperature in one place in your house. Use a network of wifi-connected temperature sensors to get an average temperature, and build a thermostat off that. Bonus points: have a sensor outside and have the thermostat reccomend opening windows when more efficient that running HVAC. Maybe even integrate with online pollution index.
Implement audio streaming over bare UDP on ESP 8266s. Would be challenging to learn about stream control, networking, error correction, synchronization, etc.
Turn 3 sets of stereo speakers into 6 channel surround sound using math and electronics. Difficulty level: hard.
Use a webcam and facial recognition (probably with OpenCV) to detect whether you're looking at your monitor. Dim your monitor when you're looking away to save power and ward off curious co-workers
This but with a mic for voice
Have you noticed how a lot of towel dispensers dispense towels even when no one is nearby? Use a basic AI to allow towel dispensers to automatically change their motion sensor sensitivity.
Game of life, except hexes instead of squares
RTS, but dystopian.
Chat where you only keep your username as long as you're using it, and can change it at any time. Lots of anonymity.
Build a smart phone with an arduino/raspberry pi.
Capacitors and magnet wire. Move nails _really_ fast
Build a phone with an arduino (or raspberry pi) that adds all kinds of security features, low and high tech.
Low tech SDR using fast RAM, a binary counter, a micro, some adders, and PWM DAC.
Text based adventure, except multiplayer
First person shooter set in space with full 6 degrees of freedom. Bonus points for accurate orbital mechanics. Basically Shattered Horizons.
Have a pi that you log into with Google and Facebook and such, then it constantly visits random websites and clicks on ads. Make your online tracking data useless. Bonus points for simiple AI stuff, like turning off to simulate "sleep." Similar too, but different from, AdNauseam
Build a terrible little Oscope with a microcontroller. Wouldn't be very good, but it would be cheap and useful for simple Arduino projects
Wireless bluetooth number pad. Surprisingly difficult to find one you can buy.
You know how some printers make loud noises as the print head moves back and forth? Write a program that, when given an input string, converts it to Morse code then generates a pdf that makes the printer move to sound out the morse code.
Sow details about game statistics in a second window. Pretty straightforward.
Implement the game Yahtzee on an Arduino. Would require a lot of knowledge of coding and, if done carefully, could cover almost every feature of object oriented programming and Arduino hardware.
Age of Empires satire based on baseball. Credit goes to my little brother for this idea.
Build an "advanced search" for Reddit. Allow you to search keywords, titles, usernames, etc. and filter by sub, date, poster, etc.
Simulate playing the classic simulator! Press a button faster to make more things blow up!
Amazon publishes an RSS feed of sales. Build a program that reads the feed and searches for specified keywords. Bonus points for filtering by cost, user rating etc. For example, you could specify that you want a 128GB SSD for less than $50 and it would alert you as soon as one came up.
Build a programmable remote for your PC that worked over WiFi. Power it with a Pi, ESP 8266, or Onion Omega. Communicate with VNC or have a small program on the PC that executed AutoHotKey scripts based on input from the remote.
Breathing is actually really hard! Take the place of someones autonomic nervous system while they pursue a variety of activities. Can you keep their blood appropriately oxygenated based only on their heart rate and blood C02 levels?
Convert an old CRT from raster graphics to vector graphics. Implement Spacewar on an arduino/raspberry pi and use the CRT as the display
I work with a team that attempted this at a hackathon, details here.
Spacewar is one of the oldest video games. Info about it here
CAUTION! CRT displays are dangerous and can kill you half a dozen different ways. Don't open them unless you know what you're doing!
After deleting your history, it generates a bunch of fake, innocent looking history. Few things are more suspicious than a completely empty browser history.
Generates random law suit documents using basic AI. Allows you to pronounce sewing machine wrong with impunity.
Motion lights that don't turn off when they stop seeing motion, they turn off when they sense motion somewhere else. Only really works if there's only one person though... This idea still needs work
It just says yes.
Java Script, but Hutt themed.
"Free" internet for those with unlimited texting but small data caps. Would need to be a phone app.
Implement the table-top game Captain Sonar as an application, preferrably command line, for the cools.
Create a town building RTS with a colony insect theme. This could be really cool, because ants and bees and stuff are awesome
Apparently San Francisco has some really cool parking policies, with variable pricing based on demand. A lot of other cities could benefit from a similar setup. Here's the 99pi I got inspiration from.
Plug your keyboard and mouse into a Raspberry Pi. The raspberry pi can "augment" your input with macros and other utilities, and then sends the data out to an HID Arduino to be sent to a computer. You could have a hardware device with record/play/repeat macro functionality.
Chat bot, but communicates in Morse code. Would help with learning Morse code
Use markov chains to randomly generate a "motivational" saying, then use a Google image search to find an image. Combine them to make a poster, and print it! Maybe add a big red "Motivate Me" button.
Use FPGA or Microcontroller to create physical cells from the game TIS-100. Would be a relatively easy way to learn about computer architecture and design.
Help your GM/DM keep his accents straight with this simple tool! Basically a fancy GUI wrapper for AWS Polly
I helped implement this at Grizz Hacks 2017, link here!
Add malloc and free to Arduino. Basically write your own RTOS on Arduino. Would be super hard, but it would be a great way to learn about operating systems and memory management.
Make an app that will tell you whether a picture is of broccoli or not.
Audio journal, but use text to speach to build an index so that you can search the voice later, and it will play back voice clips.
Translated text probably wouldn't actually be available to the user, because text to speach is usually not very good.
Create a program to search technical documentation for Three Letter Acronyms. Then, if you give it a three word phrase, it will find it's TLA, and all the technical terms to go with it.
Could also go the other way, give it a TLA or a three word technical phrase, and get a random english phrase out! Could use Markov chains, or do it randomly
Facebook allows you to download a record of every post, image, and IM you've ever created/sent.
This project would take that info, and analyze it to give you all kinds of interesting information, such as who your favorite freind is, what your favorite word is, what freind makes you the least happy, etc.
Would use sentiment analysis, data mining, etc.
Could also create a Facebook app, so you don't have to wait for the download. Either way, the permissions are ugly. Serious privacy issues here!
Create a service to detect when you connect to wifi, and check if it's name is "cool," then tell you. Would be a fun way to learn about writing background services.
A better version of this, basically. I'd love to add a database back-end, for ease of use. I'd love to add tags, and searching, and filters.
For example, it would be nice to sort by difficulty, seriousness, scope, hardware/software, etc.
Would also be nice to have a way for people to send in a "postcard" if they use an idea here.
Create a totally modular web-system for organization management. Would have a core module with basic info on members, then add additional modules for other functionality.
Each organization could include just the modules they need, so they don't have a ton of features they don't want.
Moduels to include could be things like sub-group membership, mailing-list maintenance, self-update interface, etc.
Would be a great way to learn about modular software design, and would create an actually useful final project for our local ACM
Tyler helped me come up with this idea, and we're hoping to work on it at a hackathon in Spring 2018