Ubiquitous Computing Lab



From Ubicomp Lab - University of Washington

Jump to: navigation, search


Active Projects

Sustainability Sensing

ElectriSense thumbnail.png


Electrical Device Energy Usage with a Single Sensor

ElectriSense is a single plug-in sensor that provides whole home device level usage data. That is, using a single sensor plugged in anywhere in the home, ElectriSense can infer which electrical appliances are on and which off. This data could be used for numerous applications, for example, for providing home owners with itemized electrical bill that not only shows the total energy consumption but breaks the total on a per appliance basis (TV consumed 20 KWh, Lighting consumes 18 KWh and so on).

Lead Researchers: Sidhant Gupta, Shwetak Patel



Water Fixture Usage with a Single Sensor

HydroSense is a pressure-based sensor that automatically determines water usage activity and flow down to the source (e.g., dishwasher, laundry, shower) from a single non-intrusive installation point.

Lead Researchers: Jon Froehlich, Eric Larson, Shwetak Patel

Low-Power Sensing / Power Harvesting

SNUPI tn.jpg


Ultra-Low-Power, General-Purpose Wireless Sensing Platform

SNUPI (Sensor Nodes Utilizing Powerline Infrastructure) nodes are ultra-low-power, general-purpose, 27 MHz wireless sensor nodes that transmit their data by coupling over the powerline to a single receiver attached to the powerline in the home. We’ve demonstrated the ability of our general purpose wireless sensor nodes to provide whole-home coverage while consuming less than 1 mW of power when transmitting (one order of magnitude lower than existing nodes), and our custom CMOS transmitter consumes only 65 µW (two orders of magnitude lower than existing nodes). Compared to those found in traditional whole-home wireless systems, this is the lowest power transmitter to date.

Lead Researchers: Gabe Cohn, Shwetak Patel

Novel Interaction Techniques

LightWave thumbnail.png


Using Compact Fluorescent Lights as Sensors

We describe LightWave, a sensing approach that turns ordinary compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs into sensors of human proximity. Unmodified CFL bulbs are shown to be sensitive proximity transducers when they are illuminated. This approach utilizes predictable variations in electromagnetic noise resulting from the change in impedance due to the proximity of a human body to the bulb. The electromagnetic noise can be sensed from any point along a home’s electrical wiring. This allows users to perform gestures near any CFL lighting fixture, even when multiple lamps are operational. Gestures can be sensed using a single interface device plugged into any electrical outlet. We also show that CFLs can function as more general-purpose sensors for distributed human motion detection and ambient temperature sensing.

Lead Researchers: Sidhant Gupta, Keyu Chen, Matthew S. Reynolds, Shwetak Patel



Sensing Gestures Using the Body as an Antenna

Computer vision and inertial measurement have made it possible for people to interact with computers using whole-body gestures. Although there has been rapid growth in the uses and applications of these systems, their ubiquity has been limited by the high cost of heavily instrumenting either the environment or the user. In this paper, we use the human body as an antenna for sensing whole-body gestures. Such an approach requires no instrumentation to the environment, and only minimal instrumentation to the user, thus enabling truly mobile applications. We show robust gesture recognition with an average accuracy of 93% across 12 whole-body gestures, and promising results for robust location classification within a building. In addition, we demonstrate a real-time interactive system which allows a user to interact with a computer using whole-body gestures.

Lead Researchers: Gabe Cohn, Dan Morris, Shwetak Patel, Desney Tan


InteractiveGenerator (InGen)

Self-Powered Haptic Feedback Device

InGen is a self-powered wireless rotary input device capable of generating haptic or force feedback without the need for any external power source. Our approach uses a modified servomotor to perform three functions: (1) generating power for wireless communication and embedded electronics, (2) sensing the direction and speed of rotation, and (3) providing force feedback during rotation. While InGen is rotating, the device is capable of providing the sensation of detents or bumps, changes in stiffness, and stiff stops entirely through power that is harvested during interaction. To the best of our knowledge, InGen is the first self-powered device, which also provides haptic feedback during operation.

Lead Researchers: Akash Badshah, Sidhant Gupta, Gabe Cohn, Shwetak Patel

HeatWave 2.png


Thermal Imaging for Surface User Interaction

The HeatWave system describes our exploration of digital thermal imaging cameras to detect, track, and support user interaction on arbitrary surfaces. We explore HCI applications for this technology and how this new imaging technology might complement or augment more traditional RGB (video) and/or depth cameras. We identify unique contributions and opportunities afforded by thermal imaging and its limitations as a practical sensor for naturalistic user interaction.

Lead Researchers: Eric Larson, Gabe Cohn, Shwetak Patel

Health Sensing and Technologies



Automatic, Ambulatory Cough Monitoring

Coughing is the number one symptom individuals report when experiencing an illness. Existing approaches to cough assessment either require a patient to self-monitor their coughs or require wearing specialized equipment. We have developed algorithms for using audio recorded from a mobile phone microphone to count the number of cough episodes an individual has and the number of coughs within each episode. This system could be used to track and monitor cough frequency for a single person or, when networked, trends across an entire population--using nothing more than an individual's existing mobile phone.

Lead Researchers: Sean Liu, Eric Larson, Shwetak Patel



Mobile Phone Spirometry

SpiroSmart is a mobile phone based platform that allows for the analysis of common lung function measures (FEV1, FVC, PEF). By analyzing lip reverberation we are capable of monitoring pulmonary ailments such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cystic fibrosis. To increase compliance, our target monitoring platform is the mobile phone, a sufficiently small device that is always with the patient. Additionally, we are investigating methods to make the lung testing procedure part of a simple, yet engaging, game on the phone.

Lead Researchers: Eric Larson, Mayank Goel, Shwetak Patel

Past Projects

Sustainability Sensing

GasSense tn.jpg


Appliance-Level Single-Point Sensing of Gas Activity in the Home

GasSense is a prototype system for both detecting and identifying the activity of individual natural gas appliances using only a single acoustic sensor placed on the gas infrastructure of the home. This system can be used to provide eco-feedback to the home user, which studies have shown to result in significant decreases in energy consumption. I worked with a variety of collaborators focused on human-computer interaction, sustainability, signal processing, machine learning, and mechanical engineering.

Lead Researchers: Gabe Cohn, Sidhant Gupta, Shwetak Patel

Low-Power Sensing / Power Harvesting

WATTR Title.png


Self-Powered Wireless Sensing of Water Activity in the Home

WATTr is a novel self-powered water activity sensor that utilizes residential water pressure impulses as both a powering and sensing source. Consisting of a power harvesting circuit, piezoelectric sensor, ultra-low-power 16-bit microcontroller, 16-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC), and a 433 MHz wireless transmitter, WATTr is capable of sampling home water pressure at 33 Hz and transmitting over 3 m when any water fixture in the home is opened or closed. WATTr provides an alternative sensing solution to the power intensive Bluetooth-based sensor used in the HydroSense project for single-point whole-home water usage. Unlike other water-based power harvesters, WATTr does not waste water to power itself.

Lead Researchers: Tim Campbell, Shwetak Patel

Novel Interaction Techniques

Haptic Laser.png

Haptic Laser

Haptics for At-a-Distance Interaction in the Physical Environment

The Haptic Laser is a handheld device that simulates interaction with physical surfaces as a user targets objects of interest (e.g., a light switch, TV, etc). Using simple computer vision techniques and laser range finding, information about a physical environment is extracted and haptically conveyed through the handheld device using a collection of motors and a single solenoid.

Lead Researchers: Fran Iannacci, Shwetak Patel



Information in a Squeeze

Haptic feedback provides an additional interaction channel when auditory and visual feedback may not be appropriate. We present a novel haptic feedback system that changes its elasticity to convey information for eyes-free interaction. SqueezeBlock is an electro-mechanical system that can realize a virtual spring having a programmatically con- trolled spring constant. It also allows for additional haptic modalities by altering the Hooke’s Law linear-elastic force- displacement equation, such as non-linear springs, size changes, and spring length (range of motion) variations. This ability to program arbitrarily spring constants also allows for “click” and button-like feedback. We present several potential applications along with results from a study showing how well participants can distinguish be- tween several levels of stiffness, size, and range of motion. We conclude with implications for interaction design.

Lead Researchers: Sidhant Gupta, Shwetak Patel

Blui 1.png


Low-Cost Blowable User Interfaces

BLUI is a unique form of hands-free interaction that can be implemented on most commodity computing plat-forms. Our approach supports blowing at a laptop or computer screen to directly control certain interactive applications. Localization estimates are produced in real-time to determine where on the screen the person is blowing. Our approach relies solely on a single microphone, such as those already embedded in a standard laptop or one placed near a computer monitor, which makes our approach very cost-effective and easy-to-deploy.

Lead Researchers: Shwetak Patel

Icam 2.png


At-a-Distance Interaction

Effective integration of sensing and laser-assisted interaction have resulted in a handheld device, the iCam, which simultaneously calculates its own location as well as the location of another object in the environment. iCam demonstrates how location-aware, at-a-distance interaction simplifies certain location-aware activities.

Lead Researchers: Shwetak Patel

Cre 5.jpg

Capture Resistant Environment

Blocking the Recording of Cameras

The Capture Resistant Environment uses cameras and projectors to prevent unauthorized photography and video recording. The camera can detect the lens of a digital camera and the projected light can neutralize the camera, making any images or video recordings blurred and thus useless.

Lead Researchers: Shwetak Patel

Location Tracking and Sensing

PLP 3.png

PLP: Power Line Positioning

Low-Cost, Whole-Home Indoor Localization

Power Line Positioning (PLP) is a low cost whole house indoor localization that can be easily deployed using two wall socket plug-in modules. It uses fingerprinting of multiple signals transmitted along the powerline by the plug-in modules to achieve subroom- level localization. Custom tags detect these signal and determine their location in real-time.

Lead Researchers: Sidhant Gupta, Shwetak Patel

TrackSense 1.png


Infrastructure-Free Localization

TrackSense enables precise indoor positioning that requires no additional environmental infrastructure. Evaluation of our prototype indicates that such a system can deliver up to 4 cm accuracy with 3 cm precision in rooms up to five meters squared, as well as 2 degree accuracy and 1 degree precision on orientation.

Lead Researchers: Shwetak Patel

Hvac 1a.png

Human Movement Detection via Pressure Sensing in HVAC Systems

We have developed an approach for whole-house gross movement and room transition detection through sensing at only one point in the home. Our solution leverages the existing ductwork infrastructure of central heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems found in many homes to detect and classify where certain movement events are occurring in the house, such as an adult walking through a particular doorway or the opening and closing of a particular door.

Lead Researchers: Shwetak Patel

This page was last modified on September 16, 2012, at 18:26.