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Are we ready for the Internet of Ears?

By Tim Sandle     Nov 26, 2018 in Technology
The Internet of Things has taken a foothold in many homes. According to some technologists, the next stage for the smart home is the Internet of Sound, based on sensors detecting alterations with vibrations, sound and electrical field.
The idea behind the Internet of Sound concept is to use the collected sound, vibrational and electrical changes to improve energy consumption. A secondary area is an alert, in terms of monitor movements of people inside the home.
The smart home concept has accelerated in recent years, through innovations in home automation. Many of the applications have been tailored towards convenience (such as changing light intensity to suit mood) or entertainment, with voice activated music systems, as examples. Many types of ‘domotics’ involve the use of a central hub.
The concept comes from engineers based at Case Western Reserve University. The researchers have been examining a new range of smart-home sensors. Such devices could be designed to capture vibrations, sounds and small changes relating to ambient electrical field.
With the idea of using sound to deliver energy saving, a building of the future could be equipped with sensors that could adjust activity to suit the number of occupants. The appeal of such a concept is with data privacy. According to the research team, a self-adjusting building could operate with just a few small, hidden sensors located in the walls and floor, without the need for invasive or intrusive cameras.
With the electrical field aspect in the U.S. there is normally a constant 60 Hz electrical field around people. However, since people are, to a degree, conductive, we tend to short out the field. This means that constructing devices to measure the disturbance in that field allows the presence of people to detected within the as-built environment.
According to one of the architects of the sound meets smart home concept, Ming-Chun Huang: “We are using principles similar to those of the human ear, where vibrations are picked up and our algorithms decipher them to determine your specific movements. That's why we call it the 'Internet of Ears’.”
While the technology remains a few years off, the researchers have presented some preliminary findings to the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Sensors conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
The researchers are also putting various new smart home ideas to test in a space that retired people live in. This is the Smart Living Lab at Ohio Living Breckenridge Village’s Grace Wood Campus. The idea of this smart living space is to have the seniors work with the devices before the technology advances to the marketplace.
More about Smart home, internet of things, Sound, vibration
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