“The idea is you can plug this in and immediately turn a room into a smart environment,” Gierad Laput, a Ph.D. student in CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII), told The Spoon. “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 into an outlet.”
The secret behind the smart sensor comes in the form of machine learning algorithms, capable of combining data feeds to distinguish various appliances and their uses. So based purely on an appliance’s sounds and vibration patterns, these sensors can tell whether they’re hearing a blender, a coffee grinder, or a mixer.
But the hope is that the sensors could soon do even more than that. The team is increasing the number of data feeds compatible with the sensors. That means that soon, they could also determine when a human leaves an environment, or when the AC or heater kicks on.
“Smart appliances are expensive and rarely talk to one another,” the researchers noted. “We’ve explored an alternate, general purpose sensing approach where a single, highly capable sensor board can indirectly monitor an entire room.”
And that’s a future we can look forward to.
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