Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reading: Interactive Architecture

Interactive Architecture
"Interactive Architecture" by Michael Fox and Miles Kemp, 2009.

This book is amazing. It covers the changing paradigm of architecture in the 21st century. The book covers many aspects of my Master's Project from. the embedded computing to it's environmental impact and it's effect on the sociological and psychological implications. through the next week, I write about each of it's sections and my thoughts.

Physical Change - Kinetic Architecture

Embedded Computation

Project Landscape - Adaptable Space; Living, Working, Entertainment and Public Environments

Environmental Impact - Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Solutions, Environmental Cognizance

Enhancing and Extending Activities - Active Participation

Sociological and Psychological Implications - Changing Lifestyle Patterns, Behavior Awareness, Building Awareness, Sense of Place, Control of Space, Attachment to Space

Design and the Profession - Designing Interactive Systems, Economic Feasibility

New Horizons - Technology Transfer, Interface Design, Autonomous Robotics, Evolutionary Systems

“A new epoch has begun!”

Article: 6 Ways to Better Living: Inside an Internet of Things Home

I did some more research on the web today on the "Internet of Things" and found this great article that summarized some of the things a web enabled house can do. Read online at ReadWriteWeb (quoted below)
What if we took the leading sensor-based products currently being developed or already on the market, put them all under one roof, and added a typical American family? Would they just be the techiest family on the block, or would it have a significant impact on their lives?
Here are six ways this Internet of Things family can see their lives change. They exercise more, save energy and water, budget better, know where their kids are at any moment, and they'll always have the right lighting for activities in the house.

Bank Account-based Motivation

We talked last month about Green Goose, which is a green egg with an ethernet connection that can sense how many miles a person has ridden on their bicycle instead of a car. This data ultimately could be synced up with each family members' bank account. So if they chose to ride a bike instead of a car, an automatic transfer of the allotted monthly gas money saved goes from a checking account into a savings account. Green Goose has plans for other similar sensors.

Health and Fitness

When it comes to physical fitness, this family has all the devices we explained in our sensors to keep you fit post. From Nike Plus running shoes, which sends running data to Mom's iPod via a sensor, to grandpa's exercise games via Wii Fit to their youngest son's training program via NordicTracks iFit, to Dad's miCoach pacer, this family is being encouraged by sensors to better understand and improve their physical health.

Water Conservation

The Waterpebble is a simple sensor that's placed in the shower. It measures the duration of the first shower, and when the next person takes a shower a green light inside the pebble will turn to orange to let the person know that their shower-time is half way up. Once the shower goes longer than the recorded time, the pebble gives off a red light. The best part is that after each shower the Waterpebble will fractionally reduce the amount of time the person will be allowed to shower. There's also a reset button for when someone in the family is having a bad day and needs a longer shower.

Energy Use Scoreboard

All electrical appliances in this house plug into Picowatt Wi-Fi smart plugs, which allow the family to communicate and control energy usage via a command center like Intel's prototype home energy monitor. This monitor is what the New York Times refers to as an Energy Use Scoreboard, which calculates energy usage and displays costs in real-time. Once this technology hits the market, the family will be able to add a few goal-setting apps to the control panel and they'll have the tools they need to minimize their energy use.

Alert Services

Last January we reported on Trackle and the emerging era of alert services. In the Internet of Things house not only does Trackle alert the family about vital events and information going on in their neighborhood, but when Mom wants to make sure her daughter gets safely home from school on her own, she simply puts a Touchatag RFID tag in her backpack, which alerts Mom when her daughter is safely home.

Lighting Optimization

Finally, this home's lighting can be regulated by Pachube (pronounced patch-bay) and Arduino. As we reported last summer, light sensors can be connected to Arduino, which is an open-source electronics prototyping platform. The light sensor data is then sent to Pachube, which connects the sensor data to the Web where the lighting can be controlled via twitter or via a home energy monitor.
Overall, it's important to remember that we're still in the early days of Internet of Things. As these products continue to develop we'll find more and more ways for our devices to coax us to refine our health and our environment.

My first order of electronic parts came in today! Time to start experimenting!

Ah the unboxing.

Electronic parts look so much smaller in real life.

I liked the boards from Jee Labs that I ordered a bunch a stuff from them. All of them require assembly. My new Soldering iron won't be here until Wednesday :( (I fried my last one) So it's going to be a couple of days until I have these ready to play with.

Reading: Refabricating Architecture

Refabricating Architecture: How Manufacturing Methodologies are Poised to Transform Building Construction
"Refabricating Architecture" by Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake, 2004
How Manufacturing Methodologies Are Poised to Transform Building Construction
I first read this book three years ago while researching modular construction and the KieranTimberlake's Loblolly House Project.

The book looks at how we can apply ideas from other types of manufacturing like ships and cars to building construction. It got me started at looking at how building construction is lagging behind other types of construction in speed, efficiency, and technology.

My favorite example is looking at how today car's are filled with complex technology. Sensors are integrated through out the car, detecting tire air pressure, engine performance, and even a crash- all to provide a safer, more efficient vehicle. If anything thing goes wrong the cars tells us through a warning light and some now even have the ability to send information straight to your smart phone.

I think it's time we started looking at how we can integrate technology into the core of architecture to create new buildings that respond to their occupants and to the environment around them.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Precedent: Media House Project

I first read about this project as a short article in an architecture magazine, the details were sparse but I really like the ideas. I looked a little deeper and I discovered that the people behind the project had published an entire book detailing the project.

Media House Project: The House Is The Computer The Structure The Network

This project, more than any other, is what inspired my thesis.

The Media House Project was a joint project between UPC. Barcelona Tech and the MIT Media Lab back 2001-2002. MIT focused on developing new technology for the home and Barcelona Tech did a series of studies on how integrate MIT's work into a new Architecture.
The House is the Computer
The Structure is the network
This statement sets the framework for the project. Instead of the computer being separate from the house, it is integrated into the structure of the building

Most of the book was student essays detailing different aspects of the project.
Some of my favorite essays were:

Intelligent Environment: This looked at how we can augment our lives with microcomputers.

Housing X-Ray: A photo essay that deconstructed the lives of several families to show how they live in their homes. It also looked at all of the stuff, furniture, knickknacks, toys, we place inside of our homes.

Intelligent Space: Discussed the MIT Smart Rooms Project, and how it can be incorporated into a building

Structural Model: discussed network layouts: MegaBus - Devices share a common pipeline. Ring - devices are on a ring and pass data in circular fashion. Star, Structure and Relations - devices branch off of a central node.

Structure Vs Infrastructure: How MIT integrated their Internet 0 network into the the structure of the full scale demonstration Model. They used a system similar to that used in track lighting, where devices could be added as needed to the structure.

Media Kitchen: This proposed an early version of the Microsoft Surface. They proposed using them in the kitchen as a way to organize food, layout meals, display cookbooks and more.

Play place - a show case of technology for educating and entertaining children in the house. It's a lot like Microsoft Kinect for Xbox

Chromotherapy - An experiment of using Colored Light to affect the mood of the people in the dwelling

Domos House Website - Discussed a web interface for the House, Lots of great ideas, but a lot has changed in webdesign since this book was written.

Presentation - I love the way the presented this project to the public. They built a full scale model of their experiments and then put on a performance, like a stage show, with the students showing how their piece of the project works

Agenda for the Informational Home - The Closing statement of the book laid out 6 areas for the "Future Informational Home", (i would simply call it a smart house).
1) Internet 0: the house a great brain,
2) Internet 2: large format video.
3) Informational structures (building the network into structure of the house)
4) Manufacturing dwellings,
5) Open dwelling: flexibility of distribution,
6) The house's website

These are the 6 areas I am focusing my Thesis on. My Plans:

1) Build a simple network using off the shelf parts (Arduino).
2) Not critical but worth noting: Youtube, gigiabit lan and fiber optics already exist today, and Internet 2 is well on it's way.
3 & 4) I think these go hand in hand, the future of housing is in modular construction. I think any sort of sensor network could easily be integrated inside of these modular parts and be snapped together onsite.
5) My proposed sensor network makes traditional wiring obsolete. Switches and Light bulbs are independent, and can be reconfigured on the fly.
6) I think the interface to the house is one of the most important parts. How do you see the information the house is producing while your at home? at Work? away at vacation? How do show off your greeness online on Social Media?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Arduino's used in an Actual Building

They revamped the Arduino blog and they are posting some interesting stories.

Some time ago I was informed that the surfaces of the amazing Media-TIC building (from Cloud 9 / Enric Ruiz Geli) were Arduino-based, sensing the environment/atmospheric changes and offering a 20% saving on climate control:
The building is in the shape of a cube and formed by large iron beams covered in a plastic coating of inflatable bubbles, which offer glimpses of the fluorescent structure of the building. The attractive covering also has a functional utility as a way of regulating light and temperature, primarily preventing 114 tons of CO2 a year from escaping from the building, and offering a 20% saving on climate control.

Every facade of the Media-TIC is different: from the outside, they reveal parts of their interior spaces and give a diverse plasticity, while from the inside they offer spectacular views.
I did a quick search for more info on how they integrated arduino's but I haven't found anything so far

Another interesting thing from the blog is that someone has created a arduino plugin for Rhino's GrassHopper

Firefly for Grasshopper / Arduino from Jason K Johnson on Vimeo.

This is definitely something I will look at using in the future

[Arduino Blog]

New Arduino's

At MakerFaire NY the folks at Arduino annouced new boards: The arduino uno, a replacement for the Duemilanove and the Arduino Uno Mega, A replacement for the mega.

The main change is a new USB to serial Chip onboard that will open up a lot of new possibilities and the mega has an even more memory.  The best part is the older boards are now going on sale! Once the old Mega drops to $40 I might buy a few more...

[Arduino Blog]

Friday, September 24, 2010

Video: IBM- The Internet of Things

Sometimes youtube is a waste of time, sometimes you can find cool videos

You Too Can Join the Internet Of Things

I read a lot news online and this one relates: You Too Can Join the Internet Of Things . It talks about the growing open source community behind the Internet of Things. In this case using mbed.org a ARM based development kit.  ARM chips are faster than the AVR chip found on the arduinos I'm using but right now the cost is much higher and their not a whole lot of code written for them yet.
For many years now, Silicon Valley has hyped a concept known as the Internet of Things.

The thinking goes that just about everything, be it a shirt, toy, wall or milk jug, will have a chip or some kind of sensor in it that transmits information. People talk about refrigerators that can discern what’s inside of them and recommend recipes or order more milk for delivery just as that gallon jug begins to run out. Or maybe a restaurant gleans some kind of information about its wait staff based on the movement of plates.

A lot of the stuff sounds hokey and adds complexity to situations where the current order of things works just fine. But advocates of the Internet of Things argue that it’s tough for us to really grasp what useful creations people will build with the sensors in these early days with the technology.
[New York Times]

Update: Wired Posted a followup

Will the Internet of Things Be Open or Closed?

Now, at Adafruit Industries’ blog, DIY-engineering all-star Limor Fried counters the Times’ warm enthusiasm for ARM’s approach with some ice-water skepticism: “mbed requires an online compiler, so that you are dependent on them forever. You cannot do anything without using their online site, ever.”


Reading: Smart Rooms

"Smart Rooms" by Alex P. Pentland, Scientific American April 1996, pages 68-76

"In creating computer systems that can identify people and interpret their actions, researchers have come one step closer to building helpful home and work environments"

This is an older article but it has some very relevant ideas. They discuss using cameras to read human movement and behavior to interact with a virtual environment. The funny thing is this is becoming a reality this year when Microsoft releases "Kinect" for the Xbox 360 for Christmas.

I think this sort of interface is whats next for how humans will interact with computers. It opens a lot of new possibilities for how one's house can "see" it occupants and connect with them.

Reading: Internet 0, Interdevice Internetworking

"Internet 0, Interdevice Internetworking" by Neil Gershenfeld, and Danny Cohen, IEEE Circuits & Devices September/October 2006, pages 48-55 (read online pdf)

This article goes over the technical aspects of the proposed Internet-0 but It also goes over some of the background. They developed Internet-0 to be an open standard to replace the 10+ that exist currently.  This would enable competition in the market so devices made by different companies could communicate with each other much like how different brand computers can connect to the same internet.  I think this is great idea but looking at this 6 years later, it doesn't seem the idea has taken off.

Reading: The Internet of Things

"The Internet of Things" by Neil Gershenfeld, Raffi Krikorian and Danny Cohen, Scientific American October 2004, pages 76-82.

"The principles that gave rise to the internet are now leading to a new kind of network of everyday devices, an Internet-0"

"Giving everyday objects the ability to connect to a data network would have a range of benefits: making it easier for homeowners to configure their lights and switches, reducing the cost and complexity of building construction, assisting with home health care. Many alternative standards currently compete to do just that— a situation reminiscent of the early days of the Internet, when computers and networks came in multiple incompatible types."

"To eliminate this technological Tower of Babel, the data protocol that is at the heart of the Internet can be adopted to represent information in whatever form it takes: pulsed electrically, flashed optically, clicked acoustically, broadcast electromagnetically or printed mechanically."

"Using this “Internet-0” encoding, the original idea of linking computer networks into a seamless whole—the “Inter” in “Internet”—can be extended to networks of all types of devices, a concept known as interdevice internetworking."

This article details the network I first read about in the "Media House Project". Internet 0 is a simplified version of Internet 1 for connecting simple devices like light switches, thermostats, locks, security sensors. They don't have need for a speed network, with expensive electronics, they only require a basic network and that can be accomplished with cheap chips.

I really like this system but I think they overcomplicated things. A little background- Data over a network is sent in packets, each one has a header with information about where that bit of data is from and where is is suppose to go. In system described in the article, they used the same header that is used in Internet-1, It's great for sending large packets to billions of computers but on a simple network, it's overkill. I propose using the same ideas of the Internet-1 header but scaled down.

Smart Sensors to Network the World

"Smart Sensors to Network the World" by David E. Culler and Hans Mulder, Scientific American June 2004, pages 84-91.
"An emerging class of pillbox-size computers, outfitted with sensors and linked together by radios, can form perceptive networks able to monitor a factory, a store— even an ecosystem. Such devices will more intimately connect the cyberworld to the real world"

"Thumb-size computers called motes combine microprocessors and memory with radio transceivers, onboard power supplies and a variety of sensors."

"Motes are inexpensive enough to deploy by the thousands in factories, farms or wildernesses. Each mote can collect and analyze sensor readings independently but can also link up with neighboring motes in a mesh like perceptive network."

"Motes are already being manufactured by Crossbow, Intel and others. Early prototype systems have helped biologists study seabird nests and redwood groves. Perceptive networks are also being developed to monitor vibrations of manufacturing equipment, strain on bridges, and people in retirement homes."
This article discussed several practical examples of sensor networks being built by UC Berkely and Intel. They used small microcontrollers with wireless transmitters to gather environmental data. One system being built by Intel was designed to measure the environment inside of an Intel factory monitoring temperature, humidity and vibration to detect problems before it production was affected. The article predicts that these kinds of computers will soon be found in our homes, workplaces, and public spaces and it will likely raise substantial privacy concerns.

Reading: Building around the Mind

"Building around the Mind" by Emily Anthes, Scientific American Mind April/May 2009, pages 52-59

"Brain research can help us craft spaces that relax, inspire, awaken, comfort and heal"

"Architects have long intuited that the places we inhabit can affect our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Now behavioral scientists are giving their hunches an empirical basis."

"Scientists are unearthing tantalizing clues about how to design spaces that promote creativity, keep students focused and alert, and lead to relaxation and social intimacy. The results inform architectural and design decisions such as the height of ceilings, the view from windows, the shape of furniture, and the type and intensity of lighting."

This article discussed the effects of architecture on the human mind. It had in interesting story about how Jonas Stalk and how he teamed up with Louis Kahn to build the Salk Institute as the place to creative scientific breakthroughs. A study in 2007 proved that people are more creative in spaces with taller ceilings. It makes us feel less physically constrained and able to think bigger. Another study published in 2000 showed that having windows to the outside improves scored higher on tests. It proved that having a view to nature has a calming effect and improves focus.

For me, this article continued my thinking about how adding technology to our environment will affect us. Will the technology be beneficial to our well being or will it just cause us stress?

OnStar Tv Ad

A lot of this project is has been inspired about how our cars are becoming smarter and I just saw a new TVad from OnStar that they have created an app to remotely monitor your car. I think we should have the same thing to monitor our homes. (app preview starts at 0:25)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reading: No Place like Home

"No Place like Home" by Antje Flade, Scientific American Mind February/March 2007 pages 70-75.
"What makes a house feel like home?"

"What makes for a “good home”? Generally speaking,
five criteria seem especially important: contact with
neighbors, privacy, flexible usage, opportunities for personalization,
and security."

"That said, people have very different ideas about what
living accommodations should offer. These preferences
depend on age, culture, life circumstances and previous
housing experiences."
This article got me thinking about how whether adding more technology to our homes is a good idea. Do we want increased control or is it just increased complexity.  Will adding technology takeaway our feeling of home?  Will it enhance our feeling of home or will it cause us frustration? Perhaps there is a middle ground? I think it varies a lot from person to person. Some people want to always know whats going on in their house, but others want to leave out in the woods with only the basics.

I see my system as a way to simplify home maintenance and enable an owner to take better care of their house. I admit that it adds an additional layer of complexity to ones house but think as a society we will accept this increase. New cars today are a great example; the are becoming more and more automated. We are made instantly aware if there is an issue with the engine or if a tire has low air pressure. Most drivers are oblivious to all the work car's computer does and I see my system doing the same thing for buildings.


I've spent the past month doing a lot of reading. I was looking through the archives of Scientific American looking for an article on the MIT Media House and I found several other interesting articles that brought up some issues I hadn't thought about before.


Goals for the next month

  1. Blog Daily about Progress
  2. Build a demo test to upload environmental data to pachube
  3. Solder and assemble JeeLinks wireless sensor hubs
  4. Setup sensors and get additional data data uploaded to pachube
  5. Build user interface to the system - In room display, Web interface, Phone Interface

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

First Experiment: Arduino + Processing + Pachube

I bought parts this week to start my first of a series of experiments: To track the temperature and humidity of my apartment.

After looking at the available temperature and humidity sensors, I was disappointed to learned that most had large margin of error. I settled on the  SHT21 from Liquidware. I'm going to use an arduino to read the values and then a program written in processing will upload this data to pachube.com which will generate graphs of  the data.

Stay Tuned!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another Cool Site

I stumbled upon a new site of someone who is also looking a physical computing: Jee Labs
This is a daily weblog about my experiments based on the mix of electronics and computing called “Physical Computing”. I’m building little “sensor nodes” to measure electricity use, temperature, light, etc. which they transmit wireless to one of the central computers in the house. One goal is to better understand how we’re using electricity and how we’re heating the home, so that we can try to improve on it. We’ve achieved a roughly 15% reduction in the past year, simply by paying a bit more attention to everything. There’s still a lot to do, particularly with gas consumption, as our house is fully open and very hard to heat locally.
Looking through his site, he has mad his own arduino module and a whole set up components that can connect to it. I'm feeling inspired today by some of his experiments and bought some parts to build my first demo. More on that to come.

The US Partner of his parts is modern device

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Diy Smart Outlet Precendents

  • Adapts a cheap power monitor to send power usage to Twitter

  • One of the First DIY Power Meters
  • Unsafe due to lack of optical isolation

  • Builds upon EnerJar to create a safer device
  • Includes a Relay to remotely disable power

Pico Bay Power Charting
  • Uses Contactless CT sensors to measure current
  • Uploads data to the internet

Humidity Sensors

Sparkfun: Humidity and Temperature Sensor - SHT15 Breakout
  • Digital 2-wire interface
  • Precise dewpoint calculation possible
  • Accuracy +/- 1.5% 
  • Measurement range: 0-100% RH
  • Absolute RH accuracy: +/- 2% RH (10...90% RH)
  • Repeatability RH: +/- 0.1% RH
  • Temp. accuracy: +/- 0.3°C @ 25°C
  • Fast response time < 4 sec.
  • Low power consumption (typ. 30 µW)
  • $41.95
  • Datasheet
SparkFun: Humidity Sensor - HIH-4030 Breakout
  • Near linear, analog output
  • 4-5.8VDC voltage supply
  • All pins broken out to a 0.1" pitch header
  • Laser trimmed interchangeability
  • Accuracy +/- 3.5% 
  • Low power design, typical current draw of only 200μA
  • Enhanced accuracy
  • Fast response time
  • Stable, low drift performance
  •  $16.95
  • Datasheet
Liquidware: Humidity and Temperature Sensor SHT21
  • Bidirectional communication over a single pin on I2C protocol
  • Energy consumption: 80 uW (at 12 bit, 3V, 1 measurement/s)
  • Relative Humidity operating range: 0-100% RH
  • Relative Humidity resolution of 0.03%
  • Relative Humidity Response Time of 8 sec (tau 63%)
  • Accuracy +/- 1.5%
  • Temperature operating range: -40 to +125°C
  • Temperature resolution of 0.01 C
  • 4 pins: +5V, GND, Clock (SCL), Data (SDA)
  • Board is 5V tolerant, allowing sensor to run from a 5V supply on Arduino I/O pins
  •  $39.93
  • Datasheet
Adafruit: Sensiron Temperature/Humidity Sensor - SHT11

  • Communication: Two-Wire Serial
  • Provides a fully calibrated, digital output
  • Measure temperature with a resolution of 0.01 degrees and within +/- 2 degree accuracy
  • Measures relative humidity with a resolution of 0.03%and within +/- 3.5% accuracy
  • Low power consumption (typically 30 μW)
  • Power requirements: 2.4 to 5.5 VDC
  • Dimensions: 0.43 x 0.49 in (11 x 12.5 mm)
  • Operating temp range: -40 to +254.9 �F (-40 to +123.8 �C)
  • $35
  • Datasheet
Seeed Studio Electronic brick - Indoor Temp & Humidity sensor

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Current Smart House Research Projects

Drexel Smart House
Drexel Smart House is a student-led, multidisciplinary project to construct an urban home to serve as a “living laboratory” for exploring cutting edge design and technology. Participants will conduct research and develop designs in the areas of environment, energy, interaction, health, and lifestyle with the ultimate goal of improving quality of life in the urban residential setting.

I really think automating your home or business and controlling your energy can help to reduce the worlds growing energy problem. So the reason for me to show this all online is to let the people see what is possible today en how it can be done. And hell yeah there are some crazy things online as well but that's for getting the conversation going and believe me it fun to do :-)

Homesense Project
Homesense is a project that rethinks how we design smart homes and investigate how we interact with technologies at home.

Homesense brings the open collaboration methods of online communities to physical infrastructures in the home. Instead of having products forced on them through a top-down design process, selected households will create their own smart homes and live with the technologies that they have developed themselves without any prior technical expertise.

The Intelligent Dormitory (iSpace) is a student study bedroom built using the same design, furniturethe idorm and fittings as those found in the halls of Residence at the University of Essex. The iSpace was built by re-fitting a room in the Computer Science Department. Unlike normal student accommodation on Campus the iSpace’s furnishings are fitted with intelligent gadgets that can detect and learn the occupant’s behaviour with the aim of providing services that could improve the quality of their lives by generating an environment that suits their needs. These intelligent gadgets communicate with each other allowing groups of agents to coordinate their actions, and allowing remote access to their services via networks (e.g. Internet, GSM etc).

MIT Media House Project
the House is the Computer,
the Structure is the Network.
A multidisciplinary team of more than a hundred people developed the Media House, a prototype of a domestic living space unveiled in Barcelona in 2001, writes Lucy Bullivant. The project is a technologically advanced interface for interaction that is a benchmark of its kind.
pdf Article

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The green switch

Green Switch

I love this site's ideas for saving energy. They sell smart outlets that can be remotely turned off so devices don't waste power in standby.

I would love to couple these with a per outlet power meter so you can track exactly how much power a device plugged in is using. I've already started researching chips and relays to try and build something like this.

Initial Communication Hub Design

 My first sensor hub is going to be based on an Arduino Mega. I'm going to build it in shield form and then if it's successfull I might attempt to integrate an arduino directly into it.
It is going to have 4 link ports tied to hardware serial ports to connect to adjacent hubs. These wires are going to be cat5 with data in rs-485 format and the remaining 4 wires used for power.  The shield is going to have a stepdown DC to DC chip so that 48v power can be sent over the line and stepped down to the 5v required for the arduino and sensors.

To connect sensors, there are goingto be 4 more cat5 jacks with pin devoted to power, analog sensors, i2c, and digital i/0

(sketches coming soon)

Next week I will order parts to start breadboarding the hub

Online data charting

So far I've discovered these online resources for charting enviromental data from a sensor network

pachube.com - the youtube of sharing environmental data
-has lots of code sample for arduino, php and processing
-looks very promising
-the shortest route to sharing information so far

Google Power Meter

Google chart API
If I build my own php app, this likily to be used

Temperature Sensors

How to Monitor a house

(Work in Progress)
In building sensor networks there are  2 main design patterns using either wired or wireless networks

Central System

Sensors connect to a central computer that handles all of the information.

  • Only one computer to program
  • Data is gathered all in one place 
  • Wireless: devices can sleep to save power when between gathering samples.
  • Wireless: cheaper transmitters.
  • If the computer crashes, no data can be gathered. 
  • Wired: lots of wires, and the signal gets degraded the longer the cable is.
  • Wireless: All the sensors have to be in range of the base station

  • Each sensors has it's own microcomputer that logs the data 
  • Data can be stored until it can be shared
  • Less wires
  • Network can withstand multiple device failures
  • Complex
  • Harder to program
  • More hardware, More expensive 
  • Wireless: modules can't sleep because they have to relay the messages of others.
My Plan

I plan on building a network that combines the strengths of both systems. Sensors in a house are often clustered together.  I plan on building a set of sensor hubs that are placed through out the house and are interconnected building a mesh network. Each hub can read multiple sensors and relay this data to it's neighbors. passing along messages until it reaches an output point.

Input and Output

This post is an Index to future posts detailing available parts for building a complete sensor network

Input Sensors


  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Gas

  • Sonar
  • Infrared
  • Key
  • RFID
  • Door Latches
  • Windows Break Sensors

  • LED Lighting
  • Screens
  • Music Systems
  • Security Alarm
  • Audio Information System

  • Shading Devices
  • Doors
  • Smart Phones

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Master's Project Components

    Part 1- Research Existing Smart Home Technology to incorporate into USF Solar Decathlon Project

    Part 2 - Develop a new smart house network system to connect, sensors and control devices

    Part -3 Look at how we as human interact with architecture and whether adding technology to architecture is a step in the right direction.


    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Master's Project

    After a very rough week, I am finally starting to work on my Architecture Thesis Master's Project.  It's going to a year long project looking at the future of architecture and how new technology is going to change the way we interact with buildings.

     I plan on keeping my blog as a journal of my research. I spent much of the summer doing preliminary research and finding sources and now It's time for me to review all of it and get my thoughts sorted out.

    My Current Abstract:

    Enabling Walls to Talk

    Today, computers can be found in items we use everyday like our cars, coffee maker and toys but we have yet to truly integrate them into the buildings we create. Currently, the systems we use are an afterthought, a mess of wires running through walls back to a central computer. I propose that by using modular/prefab construction, a micro controller, a cheap single chip computer, can be integrated into every piece of building and joined together during assembly on site to create a distributed computer network that wraps around the building. This network will consolidate existing control systems like security systems and thermostat controls into a single unified system that creates a foundation for a whole new generation of integrated devices.  This way, inputs like light switches and security sensors are programmed rather than hard wired to outputs like lights, shades, locks and other actuators, creating a very flexible environment.

    I will build a prototype of such a system with the goal of patenting it and study how our interaction with our built environment changes.  I will look at what happens when our buildings can interact with us with the same tools we use everyday like the internet, email, Facebook and Twitter.  Users will be able to gain finite control over their surroundings and be better informed about their environmental impact.

    Will being aware of what going inside our walls make us change the way live for the better?

    Day 37 Flight Home

    Somehow I forgot publish this post.

    ::Think back 1 year::

    I just got back in the US. Right now I'm waiting at the Detroit airport for my flight to Orlando.

    The day started out a little stress full. It took me a while to get all of my souvenirs packed so they wouldn't break on the way home. So far so good...

    My day today went like this:

    12 am- Got back from bowling

    5:15am- left hotel took the local jr train to the Shinksen station to catch the 6am train

    5:45am- Arrived at Station

    5:46am- realized that I had misread the schedule and that first train for Osaka (that I could ride) didn't leave until 6:34

    6:33am boarded the Shinkansen

    9:30am Arrived in Shin-Osaka


    9:45ish caught the Kanisi Airport Limited Express
    9:46am realized I got in the reserved car and had towalk through the cars to the unreserved section with all my luggage

    10:30ish arrived at The airport

    -took a view pictures on the way in.

    10:35am Got to ticket counter and found out my flight departure time had been changed from 12:25 to 12:15

    Went through security. No removing of shoes here

    Took the train down to my gate- (If I was had gotten there early I would have walked and seen some more of the building)

    11:26am got to the gate. Decided I had just enough time to get a few pictures and check out the lounge.

    11:35am boarded the plane

    1:55pm Arrived in Tokyo - we taxied forever to the gate- turns out we didn't even get one. we deplaned by stairs and took a bus to the terminal. Stood in security line forever. Its not good when a cog in the Japanese machine gets jammed. They check the size of my tripod with a measuring tape, Weird, right? They didn't check this last time.

    2:40pm got on the plane they were already doing the last call over the speakers.

    I was worn out a slept most of the trip.

    Landed on time in detroit

    Went through customs. Almost forgot my Camcorder Bag.

    Went the Sky lounge and started typing this out.
    Boarded Flight home.

    Back in Florida!!!!
    Well, I'm back home. It's amazing how quick one can leave one world and enter another.

    The flight from Detroit to Orlando was one of the memorable I've had.  I sat next to this young guy who was built like a football player.  He tried to get a beer but he wasn't 21.  The flight attendant gave him quite a speech.

    Now onto a crazy week long studio to finish my design project.