The unexpected applications of sensors: Home energy and lifestyle analysis
Smeaton, Alan F. (2011) The unexpected applications of sensors: Home energy and lifestyle analysis. In: The Internet Of Things For A Sustainable Future, 9-13 May, Vielsalm, Belgium.
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Within the CLARITY Centre for Sensor Web Technologies, we have developed applications using off-the-shelf and novel sensing technologies. Our group has developed new realtime sensors for phenomena as diverse as the composition of (human) perspiration to respiration rate (breadths per second and intake volume) to the phosphate content in river water. We have also developed applications as wide-ranging as real time full body motion construction from accelerometers for use in sports, to visual lifelogging with applications in memory recall, to real time microcasting (a form of automatic broadcasting) in field sports. In almost all of our work we have discovered unexpected applications of our sensor technology. One of these is the ability to characterise lifestyles using a single energy sensor in a domestic environment. We use energy monitoring to inform users about their energy consumption and we have developed and trialled several interventions and gauged their impact on energy awareness in the homes. Unexpectedly, we have also been able to gauge lifestyle trends in the homes and this has attracted the interest of ethnographers and those who work with the elderly as a form of latent lifestyle analysis. When an energy monitor is combined with a second sensor, such as a wearable accelerometer or wearable camera, then this yields a multiplicative effect whereby two complimentary sensor modalities can mutually inform about the underlying physical activities. In terms of the Internet of Things, our work shows how combining readings from diverse sensors can result in unpredicted applications, suggesting that diversity rather than homogeneity adds greater value to choosing sensors.
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