Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

World's "Smartest" House Created By University of Colorado Team

Date:
November 18, 1997
Source:
University Of Colorado, Boulder
Summary:
What may be the world's "smartest" house, a dwelling whose environment is controlled by a computer system that learns the occupant's daily habits and preferences, is unknown to most residents of Boulder, Colo.

Related Articles


What may be the world's "smartest" house, a dwelling whose environment is controlled by a computer system that learns the occupant's daily habits and preferences, is unknown to most residents of Boulder, Colo.

A former schoolhouse more than 90 years old, the structure was purchased in 1991 by Associate Professor Michael Mozer of the University of Colorado at Boulder's computer science department. It was then renovated and retrofitted with high-technology hardware. Using data gleaned by sensors installed by Mozer and his students, the computer system essentially "programs itself" by observing his lifestyle and habits over time, eventually learning to anticipate and accommodate his needs.

Mozer and more than a dozen graduate and undergraduate students have installed 75 sensors and nearly five miles of conductor in the home, as well as actuators to control lighting, ventilation and air and water heating. The sensors continually monitor temperature, ambient light, sound and motion in each room, the opening of doors and windows, outdoor environmental conditions, boiler temperature and hot water usage.

Many homes can be programmed to perform tasks like watering lawns or turning on televisions, but programming a home is a complex and difficult task that few homeowners are interested in doing, he said.

"The twist is that this house programs itself by observing inhabitants as they live their lives," he said. "The system is based on neural networks, which are learning devices inspired by the working of the human brain."

The human brain relies on billions of neurons constantly communicating with each other as they acquire knowledge and form memories. In Mozer's house, artificial neural networks consisting of hundreds of simple, neuron-like processing units interact to predict and control the environment.

The system predicts Mozer's behavior and movements, including which rooms will be occupied at what times, when he will leave the house and return, and when hot water will be needed in the boiler.

"The system infers rules of operation and adapts to the lifestyle of the inhabitant," maximizing comfort by setting appropriate temperatures and light levels while minimizing energy consumption," he said.

In Mozer's house, anticipating and carrying out the wishes of the inhabitant and conserving energy sometimes conflict. So Mozer and his colleagues at CU's Institute of Cognitive Science devised mathematical techniques for translating discomfort to a cost in dollars that can be weighed against energy costs.

One technique, based on an economic analysis, depends on the loss in productivity that occurs when the system ignores the inhabitants' desires. Another technique adjusts the relative importance of the inhabitants' desires based on how much they are willing to pay for gas and electricity.

Even if the inhabitants do not have a particularly regular schedule, there are statistical regularities in their behavior that the system can exploit. For example, if Mozer is not home by 3 a.m., he likely will not be home by 4 a.m. and therefore the house does not need to be warmed up.

Mozer demonstrated the bathroom light, which turned on to a low intensity as he entered. "The system picks the lowest level of the light or heat it thinks it can get away with in order to conserve energy, and I need to complain if I am not satisfied with its decision," he said.

To express his discomfort, he hit a wall switch, causing the system to brighten the light and to "punish itself" so that the next time he enters the room, a higher intensity will be selected.

"The house has been the source of a dozen student research projects and two masters theses," he said. "This is a good testing ground for undergraduates who have never actually built something in the real world. And we are in a domain that I believe may have great practical potential."

Much of Mozer's neural network research has been funded by the National Science Foundation. In 1990, Mozer received a prestigious Presidential Young Investigator Award from NSF worth $100,000 annually for five years. The NSF also funded some of Mozer's undergraduates through its Research Experience for Undergraduates program.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Colorado, Boulder. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Colorado, Boulder. "World's "Smartest" House Created By University of Colorado Team." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 November 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/11/971118072130.htm>.
University Of Colorado, Boulder. (1997, November 18). World's "Smartest" House Created By University of Colorado Team. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/11/971118072130.htm
University Of Colorado, Boulder. "World's "Smartest" House Created By University of Colorado Team." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/11/971118072130.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Toyota presented its hydrogen fuel-cell compact car called "Mirai" to US consumers at the Los Angeles auto show. The car should go on sale in 2015 for around $60.000. It combines stored hydrogen with oxygen to generate its own power. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) In a blog post, Google said its balloons have traveled 3 million kilometers since the start of Project Loon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NSA Director: China Can Damage US Power Grid

NSA Director: China Can Damage US Power Grid

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) China and "one or two" other countries are capable of mounting cyberattacks that would shut down the electric grid and other critical systems in parts of the United States, according to Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and hea Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latest Minivan Crash Tests Aren't Pretty

Latest Minivan Crash Tests Aren't Pretty

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Five minivans were put to the test in head-on crash simulations by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins