Simple Sensors to Detect Residents’ ActivitiesBy Greene, Kate; Technology Review,
Publication Date: September/October 2009
Article describes simple sensors that can be plugged into electric outlets, installed on HVAC control units, and outfitted on gas lines to monitor the activities of seniors or people with disabilities in their homes without employing expensive motion-sensing devices. The sensors’ inventor discovered that each electrical appliance in a house produces a signature in the building’s wiring. A single sensor, plugged into any outlet, which picks up electrical variations in the power lines can detect the signal made by every device as it is turned on or off. Opening or closing a door creates slight variations in air pressure that can be detected by a sensor installed in an HVAC control unit. Gas lines that connect to water heaters and stoves can be outfitted with sensors that record changes in pressure when each appliance is used. People’s locations and activities in their homes can be inferred from the lights they turn on and the appliances and fixtures they use. A pressure sensor connected to a cutoff valve can distinguish different water fixtures, such as showers, sinks, and toilets, and monitor their use. The inventor of the sensors was one of the 2009 Young Innovators Under 35 honored by Technology Review.
Published by: Technology Review, Inc. (Website:http://www.technologyreview.com)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (Web Site: http://www.mit.edu )
Link to text: http://www.technologyreview.com/tr35/Profile.aspx?Cand=T&TRID=814