Smart home in a box could capture community behavior

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Washington State University (WSU) researchers have received a National Science Foundation grant to share their "smart home in a box" technology with 60 institutions and scientists around the world in what will be the largest-ever installation of such home monitoring systems.

The collaborators will develop their own monitoring projects in a home or a lab and use the data to develop a system for using and sharing cutting-edge, smart environments on a large scale.

Originally intended for researchers to study human health and behavior in the elderly, the research will also be a step toward scaling pervasive computing to larger population groups and settings, including energy consumers.

WSU researchers are working to commercialize the technology. However, while there is a lot of interest and potential application for smart environments, the technology has not been available at large scale. The WSU team is working to develop the infrastructure for a large database that could someday include a whole community, rather than just individual homes. So, for instance, the researchers could learn a community's behavior related to energy usage, and smart sensors could learn to react to the behavior.

The three-year, $900,000 grant will create a large research database and improve communication among researchers in the field of smart environments.

"Ideas for developing smart environments and related technologies abound, but due to the difficulty of creating a fully functional smart environment infrastructure, many of these ideas are discussed in theory or are tested on simulated data," said Diane Cook, Huie-Rogers Chair professor in the WSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. "In fact, because data is in such high demand for the field, researchers actually have designed complex simulators to provide an approximation of realistic conditions.''

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