A University of Washington researcher is developing a system to make it easier for individuals and companies monitor “home” activity by using strategically placed sensors on air, water, gas, and electrical infrastructure. Assistant professor Shwetak Patel calls his approach infrastructure-mediated sensing (IMS).
IMS uses a single sensor in a strategic place to measure pressure signals in air vents and waterlines as well as electrical signals in power lines. Machine-learning technologies correlate physical events such as turning on a light, flushing a toilet, or opening a door with different signals. According to Patel, IMS’s primary goal is to reduce the economic, aesthetic, installation, and maintenance barriers to home monitoring by reducing the cost and complexity of deploying and maintaining and activity-sensing infrastructure.Patel said that in large volumes the water, pressure, and power sensors will cost as little as US$50 each.