Could you live in a house filled with smart floors?

could you live in a house filled with smart floors floorWe live in a world filled with “smart” objects – everyday items that, thanks to technology, can do more than their originally-intended purpose – from phones that can send email, access the Internet or video chat, or kitchen utensils that will tell you when you’re eating too fast. But what if your home itself was so smart that it knew where you were at every single moment of the day, just by feeling where you’re standing?

Scientists Patrick Baudisch and his team at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany, have created a pressure-sensitive floor that can not only tell where people are from where they’re standing, but also who they are by recognizing weight. The floor also has the ability to track movements and display video for the people standing on the floor to interact with, just in case you ever wanted to freak your more gullible guests out by turning the very thing that they’re standing on into something else entirely.

Baudisch and team built the prototype floor, “GravitySpace,” at roughly 26 square feet of 2.5-inch thick glass to test the potential for a smart floor. The floor is coated in a rubbery film that can detect minute changes in pressure which are recorded by infrared LEDs surrounding the entire floor, sending a signal to a camera under the surface. All of that information is captured by software running on a computer that can analyze the information and “recognize” what the object exerting the pressure actually is, and  respond in whatever way is deemed appropriate. For example, if multiple people are standing around, a video may be generated directly onto the floor to start a sort of  video game. Baudisch explains that “this pressure sensor is of such high resolution that the floor can recognize anything from shoe prints to fabric textures to someone’s knees.”

There is more to this invention that video games or creating particularly exciting dance floors, however (That said, someone should really give the “smart dance floor” idea some thought); New Scientist quotes New York University’s Ken Perlin as describing GravitySpace as “extremely exciting research,” going on to say that “the future of computer interfaces is to become more sensitive to people’s needs. A floor that understands where you are and what you are doing is a logical step in that direction.”

Of particular interest is a smart floor’s potential use in the homes of the elderly or the disabled, where the whereabouts and mobility of those in the home could be of particular importance in certain circumstances. Just think: With this technology, the floor could become some people’s window to the outside world.

Cars

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Photography

From DIY to AAA, here's how to take a passport photo in 6 different ways

If you're applying for a passport or renewing one, you need to submit a photo in your official application. There are strict guidelines, but fortunately, it's something you can do at home. Here's how to take a passport photo.
Smart Home

Thinking of buying an Instant Pot? Here's what you need to know

The Instant Pot is a powerful kitchen appliance that does everything from pressure cook to to slow cook to steam. Heck, you can even make yogurt in it. Here's all you need to know about the magic device.
Emerging Tech

Water-based fuel cell converts carbon emissions to electricity

Scientists from Korea's Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology have developed a system which can continuously produce electrical energy and hydrogen by dissolving carbon dioxide in an aqueous solution.
Emerging Tech

Scientists investigate how massive stars die in dramatic hypernova events

Our Sun will gradually fade before expanding into a red giant at the end of its life. But larger mass stars undergo extreme explosive events called hypernovas when they die which outshine their entire galaxies.
Emerging Tech

Pilotless planes are on their way, but would you fly in one?

Airbus says advancements in artificial intelligence can help it toward its goal of building a plane capable of fully autonomous flight, though whether passengers can be persuaded to travel in one is another matter entirely.
Emerging Tech

‘Tech vest’ prevents Amazon workers from colliding with robot co-workers

Amazon workers at its fulfillment centers are using "tech vests" to help protect them from collisions with their robot co-workers. The robots already have obstacle avoidance sensors, but the belt offers another layer of safety.
Emerging Tech

3D printers are finally affordable. Here are the best models under $500

3D printer prices have dropped dramatically over the past few years, but just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s worth buying. Here, we’ve rounded up all the cheap 3D printers that are actually worth spending your money on.
Mobile

T-Mobile 5G rollout: Here is everything you need to know

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.
Emerging Tech

ANYmal dog robot can get back on its feet when someone pushes it over

Roboticists at ETH Zurich have demonstrated how their ANYmal four-legged robot is capable of taking a kicking and keeping on walking -- or getting back to its feet if it's pushed over.
Emerging Tech

A.I. finds non-infringing ways to copy drugs pharma spends billions developing

Researchers have demonstrated an artificial intelligence which can find new methods for producing existing pharmaceuticals in a way that doesn’t infringe on existing patents. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Coinstar machines will let you swap cash for Bitcoin at your local grocery store

Coinstar, the company which owns the coin exchange machines found at grocery stores and elsewhere, will soon let you easily buy Bitcoin with your cash money. Here's how it will work.
Emerging Tech

Facebook hasn’t given up on the idea of building an internet drone

Facebook's efforts to provide internet connectivity from the skies using solar-powered drones suffered a blow last year when the company abandoned its "Aquila" drone project. But the company clearly hasn't given up on the idea.