A 'smart brick' developed by scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign could monitor a building's health and save lives.
"This innovation could change the face of the construction industry," said Chang Liu. "We are living with more and more smart electronics all around us, but we still live and work in fairly dumb buildings. By making our buildings smarter, we can improve both our comfort and safety."
In work performed through the university's Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, Liu and graduate student Jon Engel have combined sensor fusion, signal processing, wireless technology and basic construction material into a multi-modal sensor package that can report building conditions to a remote operator.
Dubbed 'smart skin' by its inventors, the sensor material can be wrapped around any surface of interest, such as a robotic finger. "While a typical tactile sensor can only measure surface roughness, our sensor material can determine roughness, hardness, temperature and conductivity," Liu said. "The combined input gives you a much better idea of the type of material being touched."
In addition to keeping tabs on a building's health, applications include monitoring nurseries, daycares and senior homes, and creating interactive 'smart toys' that respond to the touch of a child. "In a smart doll, for example, sensor capability would distinguish between caressing and slapping, allowing the doll to react accordingly," Liu said. "In the gaming industry, wireless sensors attached to a person's arms and legs could replace the conventional joystick and allow a 'couch potato' to get some physical exercise while playing video games such as basketball or tennis. The opportunities seem endless.". >from *Smart bricks could monitor buildings, save lives*. June 12, 2003
> space of flows: characteristics and strategies. december 2, 2002
> flow: the design challenge of pervasive computing. november 6, 2002
> the cause of health