In the morning, Tushar and I watched Kamin Whitehouse’s talk on MIT Technology Review and learned the importance of work environment: he highlighted the fact that Americans spend 60% of their time in their homes, thus innovation in home is important.

So we did some rearrangement of furniture and organization of wires. We had been avoiding the lab room because it felt crowded. Now, it is so fresh I think I could wake up earlier in the morning to work in the lab room(or maybe not).


To refute how Melwyn will name this cleaning activity — “misdirected efforts” — we gained more than just making the room more spacious and organizing devices and wires in drawers: we did a treasure hunt of devices dumped in the cardboard boxes and found a few SmartThings devices and was able to brainstorm what kind of devices we want to add to our HomeOS-Helios system. If we are not able to get Helios running on our computers tomorrow, we can experiment with the SmartThings devices we have in the lab room. The door sensor that has been reporting to Nick was a SmartThings device all along!

What I got out of Kamin Whitehouse’s talk was quite valuable: he demonstrated how a “naggy eco-friendly house”  can exist in real life. We were cringing at the thought of a home creepily tracking each person and had a repulsive initial reaction to Kamin’s proposal when we watched the video because we didn’t feel “comfortable.” Then again, his point is that even if it causes discomfort, it can save a lot of energy.

If home took note of how much energy a household consumes and “talked” about where most energy is being used, such as “70% of your electricity bill comes from running the air-conditioner”, it is helpful. However, if a home that could track which individuals were responsible and say “Your daughter takes 50 min showers, which is why your utilities are high” then there is a pinpoint as to who can be blamed. Kamin mentioned comparing energy consumption between each individual in household. This competition is very uncomfortable, but super effective in saving energy and water. Imagine installing this system in a dorm: students will treat all facilities with care and save a lot of resources. Of course, it would be much harder to track each person since there could be several people of similar height, but it could be done at a micro level for each hallway or floor.

Another big lesson learned was that smart homes are extremely helpful for elderly population or the disabled. For some reason, I have been visualizing young generations who follow the cutting-edge trends to be living in smart homes, but this technology is more than just a luxury item for the affluent. It is actually a thing. Besides reading Kamin Whitehouse’s papers(although a lot of papers we were reading have been from 10 years ago, he has continually published papers on smart homes until very recently), we will also look up how Japan is dealing with aging society with its advanced robotics skills.

TO DO LIST (for the near future)

  • Implement Kinect noise-level and gestures functionality
  • Experiment with SmartThings devices
  • Order USB ports
  • Order door sensors that do not destroy doors
  • Write Helios code for door sensors
  • Look up ultrasound sensors (or other sensors that measure distance through waves or ray)
  • Improve Helios UI
  • Incorporate devices in Professor Littman’s house that logs information