Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Internet of things made simple: One sensor package does work of many

11.05.2017

CMU's plug-in 'synthetic sensor' transforms any room into smart environment

Ubiquitous sensors seem almost synonymous with the internet of things (IoT), but some Carnegie Mellon University researchers say ubiquitous sensing -- with a single, general purpose sensor for each room -- may be better.


A sensor package developed by Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute uses nine different types of sensors that can monitor dozens of potential activities of interest, such as whether a cooking stove is in use.

Credit: Future Interfaces Group

The plug-in sensor package they've developed monitors multiple phenomena in a room, including things such as sounds, vibration, light, heat, electromagnetic noise and temperature. With help from machine learning techniques, this suite of sensors can determine whether a faucet's left or right spigot is running, if the microwave door is open, or how many paper towels have been dispensed.

"The idea is you can plug this in and immediately turn a room into a smart environment," said Gierad Laput, a Ph.D. student in CMU's Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII). "You don't have to go out and buy expensive smart appliances, which probably can't talk to each other anyway, or attach sensors to everything you want to monitor, which can be both hard to maintain and ugly. You just plug it in to an outlet."

It's an approach that Laput and his co-investigators in HCII's Future Interfaces Group call "Synthetic Sensors," because the raw feeds from the unit's nine sensors can be combined and interpreted in ways that can sense dozens of phenomena of interest. They will present their findings on Wednesday, May 10, at CHI 2017, the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, in Denver.

Laput, along with HCII Assistant Professor Chris Harrison and Ph.D. student Yang Zhang, built their platforms with sensors used in other commonly available smart home devices -- with the exception of a camera, which raises privacy concerns.

Machine learning algorithms can combine these raw feeds into powerful synthetic sensors that can identify a wide range of events and objects -- for instance, distinguishing between a blender, coffee grinder and mixer based on sounds and vibrations. Even soft, more subtle sounds, such as writing or erasing on a whiteboard, can be detected.

Beyond recording whether a device is in use or not, synthetic sensors can track the state of a device: whether a microwave door is open or closed, if cooking is interrupted, and whether the microwave has completed its cooking cycle.

"It can not only tell you if a towel dispenser is working, but it can also keep track of how many towels have been dispensed and even order a replacement roll when necessary," Laput said. A faucet left running when a room is unoccupied for a long time might prompt a warning message to the user's smartphone.

Even more advanced sensing can infer human activity, such as when someone is sleeping, showering, watching streaming video or has left home for work. Most of this processing occurs on the sensor platform itself, so detailed and sensitive data need not be transmitted or recorded, he added.

The sensor platform can be manually trained to recognize various phenomena, such as the cycling of water heaters or heating and air conditioning units. It also would be possible to pretrain the sensors to detect many popular devices and brands of home or office products, allowing the sensor platform to begin functioning as soon as it is plugged in, Laput said.

Plugging the units into a regular electric socket eliminates the need for batteries or special wiring. As a practical matter, each room likely will need its own sensor platform, though it would be possible to have each sensor platform communicate with other nearby sensors to create a home-wide sensing environment with just a few sensors, not hundreds.

###

Google, through the GIoTTo Expedition Project, supported this research, as did the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. For more information, including a video, visit the project web site.

About Carnegie Mellon University: Carnegie Mellon is a private, internationally ranked research university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business, to public policy, the humanities and the arts. More than 13,000 students in the university's seven schools and colleges benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation.

Media Contact

Byron Spice
bspice@cs.cmu.edu
412-268-9068

 @CMUScience

http://www.cmu.edu 

Byron Spice | EurekAlert!

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht ‘Time Machine’ heralds new era
25.03.2019 | Technische Universität Dresden

nachricht Open source software helps researchers extract key insights from huge sensor datasets
22.03.2019 | Universität des Saarlandes

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The taming of the light screw

DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.

The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...

Im Focus: Magnetic micro-boats

Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.

The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...

Im Focus: Self-healing coating made of corn starch makes small scratches disappear through heat

Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.

Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Laser processing is a matter for the head – LZH at the Hannover Messe 2019

25.03.2019 | Trade Fair News

A Varied Menu

25.03.2019 | Life Sciences

‘Time Machine’ heralds new era

25.03.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>