Berkeley Lab Researcher Proposes Phones and Other Devices as Energy-Saving Tools (http://newscenter.lbl.gov/science-shorts/2014/01/29/berkeley-lab-researcher-proposes-phones-and-other-devices-as-energy-saving-tools/)
Putting a smartphone to use even when it's just sitting in your pocket.
When is a phone not a phone? When it's serving as an occupancy sensor for energy-saving purposes.
"If a building could base its operations on people actually showing up rather than a fixed schedule, the potential for energy savings could be quite large," Nordman said. "And if you use existing devices to sense occupancy rather than wiring a dedicated sensor and maintaining it, then it's free-you don't have to spend money to save energy."
Nordman details the concept of "implicit sensing"-along with an experiment to see how accurately smartphones could provide occupancy information-in a paper titled, "Using existing network infrastructure to estimate building occupancy and control plugged-in devices in user workspaces," published in the
The paper examines several ways that existing infrastructure that could be used for occupancy sensing, including calls made on telephone landlines, communications data collected by routers and Wi-Fi access points to measure the presence of smartphones and computers, and security badging systems. By knowing occupancy of not just buildings but floors and rooms, then energy usage could potentially be reduced by adjusting the use of systems such as lighting, heating and cooling.
When Nordman first came up with the idea, smartphones were still a futuristic notion. Now that they are so prevalent, and many workers carry them around, their communications with the office Wi-Fi network could help
The researchers conducted experiments in a building at the
Still, it's free, and with some further studies, Nordman believes the idea could be feasible. Also, if the system combined occupancy data from mobile phones along with other sources, such as whether people are using their computers, accuracy would be improved. "If you have, say, five different ways to determine occupancy, you can combine the data," he said.
And such a system would not have to be limited to office buildings. Nordman envisions the concept could be used in homes, retail buildings, airports and even cars.
Plus, Nordman says his concept includes evolving the notion of occupancy, which is a binary state, to something he calls "presence," which encompasses how many people are in the room, who they are, and what they're doing. "For example, depending on what's going on in the room, lighting levels could change," he said. "If you know what people are doing you can provide them with better energy services."
For more on Nordman's work visit nordman.lbl.gov (http://nordman.lbl.gov).
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