Ultra wideband radar developed to track home energy usage
Radars monitor home energy usage and track people's movements to deliver activated energy savings. The radar technology has been developed as an installable product by LSBU's Biomedical Engineering and Communications (BiMEC) research group.
This project known as DANCER, Digital Agent Networking for Customer Energy Reduction, uses smart meters to monitor people's room usage and analyse energy use in the home. This is achieved by installing a broadband box in each house to calculate the length of time each electrical appliance or radiator is used. It then compares the data to people's activities and room habitation. From here, software can make adjustments to reduce any wasted energy and updates are sent to mobile devices; smartphones and tablets to reveal realised energy savings. Preliminary findings have shown a 20% energy saving in homes using interactive smart metering systems.
In this joint inter-university project, LSBU is delivering the signal processing, while Essex University's Psychology department monitors people's behaviour as they move about the home. The radar tracking of movements registers traffic and behaviour through variations in an emitted, very low power, pulsed signal, similar to sounds from a laptop computer.
The broadband box tracks and remembers individuals, without the need to tag people. The radar also identifies if rooms are occupied, switches lights on or off and reduces the heating accordingly via access to electrical supplies and heating thermostats. This is all possible by using an array of sensors via an automated self-regulatory system.
"The radar tries to understand your behaviour, so it gets to know you individually and your habits over time. It is a learning thing, and it can tell the difference between individuals in the same home". Dr, Sandra Dudley.
Social Housing Stock, Energy Supplier and Elderly Care Interest
Croydon Council, which has a large stock of social housing, has taken part in the project granting the BiMEC team access to houses with preinstalled basic sensor technology. They've been monitoring gas and electricity consumption with the UWB radar to assess temperature levels in the homes of people receiving housing benefit. Croydon could use this data to decide how much social or private housing to allocate in a given area depending on the amount of energy that can be provided.
British Gas has also expressed interest in adopting the technology to reduce energy use by relocating unused power somewhere else overnight. While ZTE Corporation, a Chinese telecoms networks supplier are chasing the team to have their systems used trials there.
Monitoring the health of elderly people at home by tracking their heart rate and breathing, or non-invasively checking patients in hospital is another possible use of the technology. AGE UK is keen to use it to monitor physical activity in the elderly.
Impressive Team and Track Record
BiMEC founder Research Professor Mohammad Ghavani, secured a £1 million ESRC grant for this project. He's an internationally recognised authority on UWB technology, with two published books and he holds three US patents.
His research partner, Dr Sandra Dudley-McEvoy, Senior Lecturer at LSBU, has an interest in multimedia studies and is carrying out on-going research in radio and optical transmission. BiMEC installed an Anechoic Chamber at LSBU that monitors wireless communications without interference for testing exact system parameters. The chamber is for 2.5 GHz to 4 GHz and available for use by external customers.
"The strength of research at LSBU means that in the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) the general engineering at South Bank did better than Kings College electrical engineering. I wanted to do research so I came here." Professor Mohamad Ghavani. Since 2011, Professor Ghavami and Dr Dudley's work at BiMEC has resulted in a significant increase, now 20, in the number of PhD students, plus funding for two research assistants. A new MSc in Biomedical Engineering and Instrumentation has been unveiled to start taking students in September 2013. The department has achieved excellence and recognition welcoming researchers and visitors from the University of Ancona in Italy, Keio University in Japan, as well as staff and research students from Germany, Norway, China, Iran, Pakistan and Nigeria.
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