Thursday , June 8 2023

Is the "Internet of the Ears" the next great thing about smart homes?


Is the "Internet of the Ears" the next great thing about smart homes?

The homes have gradually become "smarter" for decades, but the next generation of smart homes can offer what two scientists at Case Western Reserve University call "Internet of the Ears".

Today's smart home has devices, entertainment systems, security cameras and lighting, heating and cooling systems that are connected to each other and to the Internet. They can be accessed and controlled remotely by computers or smartphone applications.

The technology of interconnecting commercial, industrial or government buildings, one day even entire communities, is referred to as the "Internet of Things" or the Internet.

But a pair of Electrical and Computer Science professors at the Case Engineering School have experimented with a new sensor suite. This system will read not only vibrations, sounds – and even the particular gait, or other moves – related to humans and animals in a building, but also any subtle changes in the existing electric field environment.

While perhaps even a decade away, the home of the future could be a building that adapts to your activity with just a few small, hidden sensors on the walls and the floor and without the need for invasive cameras.

A building that "hears"

"We are trying to build a building that can" listen "to people," said Ming-Chun Huang, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

"We use principles similar to those of the human ear, where our vibrations are collected, and our algorithms decipher to define your specific movements. This is what we call the" Internet of the Ears. ""

Huang conducts research on human walking and traffic monitoring, while Swami Mantal, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Science T. and A. Schroeder focuses on detecting vibrations and changes in the existing electric field caused by the presence of people or even pets.

"There is in fact a stable 60 Hz electric field around us and because people are somewhat conductive, they stretch the field a bit," said Mandal. "Thus, by measuring the disorder in this field, we are able to determine their presence, or even their breathing, even when there are no vibrations associated with the sound.

Huang and Mandal presented their work at the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering) sensors in Glasgow, Scotland last year, and published more details on this year's IEEE sensors in New Delhi, India. A longer version of their results will appear in the IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement magazine early next year.

a photograph of Soumyajit Mandal in the lab. He also tested technology in conference rooms at the electrical engineering department on campus and in the Smart Living Lab at Ohio Living Breckenridge Village, a community of senior living in Willoughby, Ohio.

Mandal said he used only four small sensors on the walls and the floor of a room. Concerning privacy concerns, Mandal said the system would not be able to identify individuals, although it could be calibrated to recognize different people's paths.

Energy saving, building security

They expect the system could offer many benefits.

"The first asset will be the energy performance of buildings, especially in the lighting and heating sector, as the systems are adapted to the way people move from one room to another, distributing energy more efficiently," Huang said.

Another advantage could be the ability to monitor and measure the structural integrity and security of a building based on human occupation – which would be critical to an earthquake or hurricane, for example, Huang said.

"This has not really been explored since we have seen, but we know that people are creating a dynamic load on buildings, especially in older buildings," Huang said. "In co-operation with our colleague YeongAe Heo in Civil Engineering, we try to predict whether there will be structural damage due to increased weight or load based on the number of people on the floor or the way they are distributed on this floor . "

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