Home Automation 3.0

Home automation is nothing new. Hobbyists have been connecting gadgets into their appliances and fixtures for decades. But now, home automation is becoming more accessible to the amateur and a lot more aesthetically-pleasing, in terms of design. Google’s Nest allows people to control their thermostat using their cell phone. Its simple circular design most likely appealed to Google since not all of their designs are as clean.

Belkin’s WeMo allows users to control their lighting and view the cost for using each appliance with a simple phone app. Clearly the concept of ‘quantified self’ (viewing data about yourself to inform future behaviors) is extending to ‘quantified space’.

 

Years ago researchers at Georgia Tech began the Aware Home initiative began to think abut smarter spaces, specifically for older adults, mainly using sensors. How can we push the boundary beyond simple sensors to track presence or appliance usage, and towards innovative solutions that are easy for people of all ages to use. The added challenge is that older adults may have a higher chance of disability, and no two disabilities are alike. Universal usability, in general, may be as difficult as an NP complete problem. But, universal usability for quantified living spaces sounds feasible.

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You must believe me when I say that I have the utmost respect for HCI people. However, when HCI people debug their code, it’s like an art show or a meeting of the United Nations. There are tea breaks and witticisms exchanged in French; wearing a non-functional scarf is optional, but encouraged. When HCI code doesn’t work, the problem can be resolved using grand theories that relate form and perception to your deeply personal feelings about ovals. There will be debates about the socioeconomic implications of Helvetica Light, and at some point, you will have to decide whether serifs are daring statements of modernity, or tools of hegemonic oppression that implicitly support feudalism and illiteracy.

I found this to be entertaining. 

via James Mickens @ MSR

You must believ…

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Up

movie-inspired adventures

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Why U No Want Facebook?

Why do people resist sites like Facebook and Twitter so much? Part of me thinks it’s because they want to be different and are afraid of actually liking it.  The other part of me thinks it’s a marketing problem. Often these sites are promoted as helping you make new friends. What if you like your current group of friends? Or, they’re advertised as letting you keep in contact “all the time”. Frankly this “always on” idea is a) annoying or b) creepy in today’s age.

How can social media be re-marketed to groups who resist the change so much? Calling all parents, political figures, highly-restrictive companies, older adults! For those who use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked in, G+ – why do you? What do you think would make your stubborn friends sign up? For those who don’t – why don’t you? What would need to happen to encourage you to participate?

-a frustrated social media  + accessibility researcher/graduate student

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Physical Predictive Analytics

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Big data. It’s the buzz word used everywhere, usually thought of for use by tech companies such as IBM and Intel, but is now making it’s way into a variety of other companies – even Wal-Mart!

An recent article discusses the next big thing in big data. When dealing with a wealth of data, there’s:

  1. descriptive analytics – explains what has happened in the past
  2. predictive analytics – predicting future events
  3. prescriptive analytics – will predict the future, explaining why and “prescribing” some solution for what will happen

The article mentions self-driving cars as an example and how prescriptive analytics allows cars to handle left and right turns to happen in the future. However, I can see this playing a larger role in ubiquitous computing related to physical devices and sensors that control behavior in other ways. For example, take a thermostat which can use weather forecasting data to predict how weather will affect future A/C usage and issue bill ahead of time. The thermostat uses future forecasting and makes some decision (specifying a bill) based on household use. In what other ways can an abundance of big data and sensors play a role in the future of prescriptive analytics.

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A Nation Divided on Snowden

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inspired by: http://www.people-press.org/2013/06/17/public-split-over-impact-of-nsa-leak-but-most-want-snowden-prosecuted/

I typically don’t take sides in political matters but I don’t think Snowden should be prosecuted at all. I understand the there-must-be-consequences-for-breaking-the-law rationale, but I think he made a contribution to the good of humanity. Now people might actually listen to what computer scientists have been saying for years in that all information is public somewhere and to be more conscious of what they’re putting online. 

No?

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ponder this..

The most recent OpenIdeo challenge is asking people to think about how we should maintain a state of wellbeing and thrive as we age. Sponsored by the Mayo Clinic, a non-profit medical research group, I think think poses an excellent question. With more people preferring virtual exercise, the rise of computer desk-jobs, and fewer people buying fresh (as opposed to canned and frozen) foods, how can we promote healthier lives as we age?

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A paper by Dr. Becca Levy shows not only did younger people have negative ideas about aging, but older adults often negatively self-stereotype themselves. And, these negative thoughts begin to form long before becoming an older adult. My solution to this problem? Older adults need to play an active role in new age culture. With my research, I plan to engage this demographic in today’s digital culture but also to link the virtual world with the real world, encouraging intergenerational collaboration both online and offline. While that may be a lofty and seemingly impossible goal, I don’t think we’re too far off. HCI researchers are developing tools to promote integenerational communication for family members. Collaboration is the next step, and we need to look beyond the family. Such a narrow point of view!

What to IDEO-ers think?

See for yourself.

 

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[bird's] Nest

Thermostat Automagically Learns Your Heating Habits

This smart thermostat, Nest, is quite aesthetically pleasing. A red background means the heat is on, and blue mans the A/C is on. After 1 week, this thermostat learns the resident’s schedule and adjusts on its own. What’s even better is that is can predict when power prices will increase and adjust your thermostat accordingly. Perfect for a graduate student’s budget! These smart-stats aren’t new but at least this looks awesome. I’m glad we’re getting closer and closer to a complete Disney’s Smart House!

Retailing for $249 and coming out in November. 

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