Sunday, January 18, 2009

Smart Home, Smart Lighting

Smart Home, a live-in laboratory at Duke University, is a place where inter-disciplinary research meets practical needs.

After having won one of the most prestigious ratings in green buildings, called the Platinum LEED rating (given by the US Green Building Council), Smart Home has established itself as a foremost example of focusing holistic research on sustainable building techniques. Students from many majors continuously work in groups on projects for the Smart Home and compete for the Will Senner Grants Award Competition and the Cisco Innovation Award.

One of the interesting projects that won the Will Senner Grants Award Competition late last year was an all-freshman team whose research focuses on tapping the vast potential of the sophisticated lighting system of the Smart Home.

The ambitious goal is to work on the lines of sustainability and greatly reduce the wastage of light and energy in homes. Some of the immediate subprojects include a night light system- a system in which if a resident arrives late at night, the path to his room can be lit so as to avoid disturbing other residents with excessive light; measuring the REM sleep cycle of the person so that the lights and other electronic equipment can instantly switch off once the person is asleep, thereby saving huge amounts of energy; a light notification system that is directly connected to the door bell, so that instead of creating noise by ringing the bell, the residents can be notified of visitors through a subtler system of flashing of lights; night time protection that will systematically and logically turn lights on and off to mimic the presence of someone in home all the time, even during vacation, hence provides protection.

The research narrows down to the fact that through the power of fuzzy logic, the programmable lights in Smart Home can be made to fulfill several functions that can enhance day-to-day lights as well as provide a further step in promoting sustainability.

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