A new system developed by a team at MIT tracks usage of all your home appliances using a wall-mounted device similar to a WiFi router.
The system, called Sapple, was developed by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and is designed to track just about all the appliances typically found in one’s home, including everything from microwaves and stoves to hair dryers.
Sapple’s goal, say researchers, is to use the data collected to optimize energy usage, lower energy costs, and even help supplement health data to track physical well being.
Above is an example of how the system reads its environment to judge where people are. The radio waves can monitor things like motion and are used in a similar system called Emerald to monitor breathing of COVID-19 patients
One example researchers give is using Sapple to monitor habits and activities for people in senior living facilities or help insurance companies assess risk.
Sapple works by coupling a smart electricity meter with a wall-mounted wireless device similar to a WiFi router.
It then uses radio signals to track where people are in their homes and couples data with an algorithm to determine when an appliance is being used.
‘This system uses passive sensing data, and does not require people to change the way they live,’ writes MIT researcher Chen-Yu Hsu, the lead author on a new study.
‘It has potential to improve things like energy saving and efficiency, give us a better understanding of the daily activities of seniors living alone, and provide insight into the behavioral analytics for smart environments.’
The system piggybacks on a separate invention called Emerald that is being used to monitor COVID-19 patients who are quarantined at home.
The system uses the same WiFi router-like box and can monitor one’s breathing as well as their movements and their sleep patterns.
Emerald is a separate system using similar technology to monitor breathing and other biometrics of patients recovering from COVID-19
The device is already being tested in the Heritage Assisted Living in the Boston suburb of Framingham and with patient consent has beamed patient data to Emerald’s team remotely.
According to MIT, data showed that patient’s initial breathing rate had gone down from 23 to 18 breaths per minute – closer to the their baseline and also showed that improved sleep quality.