Photos: Youtube screen grabs
The Game of Life is All About Resource Management
A guy named Mike who goes by the online alias "Nitrogen" has posted a very interesting Xbox Kinect DIY hack on his blog (see the video below). It's still a prototype, but the functionality that he's wrung out of it so far is pretty cool and shows great potential for energy saving.
The Kinect sensor is placed in the corner to have as wide a view as possible. A libfreenect-based application on the automation system monitors my location in the room, using a set of simple rules to determine what action to take based on where I am. For example, the system can turn the lights on and off as I move around my apartment, impressing friends and saving electricity.
When I'm sitting at my desk, only the lights by my desk remain lit. When I move around the room, all the lights are lit so I can easily see where I am going. The lights automatically dim if I sit down for a movie and turn back on if I stand up to grab a snack. Finally, the lights automatically turn on when I enter my apartment and turn off when I leave. (source)
Green Home Automation in the Future
This setup is still pretty basic, but it's easy to imagine how a few cheap sensors around a house could allow it to manage lights, heating and cooling, and maybe even how much sunlight makes it into the house (especially important if the house have been designed for passive solar heating). Buildings are the biggest polluters on the planet, so making them more efficient is crucial, and home automation - along with many other techniques - can help us get there.
We've heard about "smart homes" for a long time, but now sensors and computing are getting cheap enough for it to become a reality.
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