Energy efficient homes with sensors in every nook and cranny just got a step closer with the development of a home sensor network using existing copper wiring as an antenna.
From the well-proportioned minds of researchers at the University of Washington comes the development of a set of wire-bound sensors that use the existing copper wire in a home to transmit signals to a plugged-in base station. This would allow sensors to be placed in hard to reach and out of the way spaces to detect things like moisture and humidity levels, as well as the presence of Zombies and/or other forms of the undead.
Ok, so Underworld sensing is the next thing in line, but the other two are totally possible.
The idea here is to give consumers an easy way to check up on the health and structure of their home, and to identify where trouble spots exist without having to pay substantial fees to an inspector or contractor.
This sensible sensing project started as graduate work for assistant professor Shwetak Patel, when he and fellow student Erik Stuntebeck developed the Sensor Nodes Utilizing Powerline Infrastructure (SNUPI) project. Through the course of their research, the two found that home wiring was an extremely efficient antenna at 27 megahertz. Once they knew that, all they had to do was build a sensor to take advantage of it.
The sensors they developed can be placed with in 10 to 15 feet of electrical wiring, much farther than standard wireless transmission methods, and use only 1% of the power needed by other devices at that distance, making them both efficient and awesome.
The sensor: in all its technological glory!
Now, their wire-wrapped wonders are set to take center stage at Ubiquitous Computing conference in Copenhagen later on in the year. It is Patel's aim to refine the technology to not only detect a range of maladies in a home, allowing homeowners to address problems before they get out of hand, but also to lower the power usage even more so that the battery in the sensors never needs to be replaced.
Sure, there's an element of "big brother" here, and we wonder just how much information these could glean or how easy they would be to hijack - say by the roofing guy who scans everyone's sensors and just happens to "show up" in the neighbourhood every time there's a problem.
It's not sinister, just opportunistic, you say.
Still, this kind of efficient technology that takes advantage of systems already in a home is the wave of the future and we're happy that it is so.
Can't you sense that?