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Create the future – Design Contest 2011 – A building as a living body


This post contains the concept idea subscribed at the contest Create the future – Design Contest 2011 (http://contest.techbriefs.com/sustainable-technologies-2011/1690-a-building-as-a-living-body ) .

A building as a living body

An intelligent building is a building which is able to monitor and control its own functionalities, according to the building structure, indoor and outdoor environment. The functionalities and their characteristics are directly related to building scope (the activities accomplished by the occupants), but usually are the same. The most part of the necessary functionalities have been already determined, and they are mainly for ensuring the minimum energy consumption and the occupants comfort. Not to forget that the occupants’ productivity is dependent on their comfort. Since a building is related to its occupants, all the functionalities of the building could be determined from the occupants’ needs and abilities. This is the reason why it come the idea to view a building as a living body (e.g. human body). It is a new approach of considering an intelligent building.

The human body is full of sensors, most of them on the skin and inside different body’s organs, and actuators which receive and execute commands, and make possible the interaction between different parts of the body. So, a building should have: a lot of sensor and actuators integrated into its structure. Since the sensors are not cheap, to diminish the total cost of the monitoring and control system, the optimum number of sensors and their location has to be determined. Even the buildings structures are different they are organized in similar ways.

The next connections could be established between a human body and a building:

  • brain (the center of coordinating and monitoring all body activities) – BMS (Building Management System). A BMS monitors the existent conditions from the entire building and take actions for ensuring the required conditions.
  •  eyes – video surveillance system and lighting;
  • smell – monitoring air quality (temperature, humidity, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, ozone, particles) and react when the air quality is not proper for living (ventilation);
  •  taste – monitoring the energy quality and quantity  (e.g. current, voltage, active energy, active power, water, gas);
  • feel the inside/outside temperature – temperature sensors;
  •  feel the humidity – relative humidity sensors;
  •  feel vibrations or force – vibrations/force sensors;
  • ensure body temperature (e.g. perspiration) – ensure indoor temperature (heating, air conditioning);
  • protection against diseases – security systems.

All the psychic feelings represent input information, measurable by sensors. Analyzing the input information could be sent commands for ensuring the working plan of the entire building. As a human body have a working plan, same a building.

For implementing the idea, a solution based on using a wireless sensor network (WSN) is proposed (formed by coordinator, routers and end nodes). Only end nodes could have attached sensors and actuators. Such a network could be easily deployed in any building space, even if the building is already constructed. Each node’s base hardware could be easily implemented using a board as Arduino and a XBee radio communication module (at a cost of about 45$). And according to its destination the node could be completed with sensors and/or actuators.

Arduino, Seeeduino and XBee


Three weeks ago I have started to make a more deeply research on electronic platforms dedicated for Wireless Sensor Networks. I take into consideration 2 main aspects: cost (very important when the budget is low and the solution should be possible to be implemented even in not rich people houses) and characteristics (functionalities offered by the platform and how they could be extended more coresponding to our needs).

After many found solutions (iSense, Libelium Waspnode, MeshBean, Particle Computer, MicroStrain, Dust network, Econotag, Redbee, Tyndall, Mica2, etc.), I get to the conclusion that they are quite expensive :-s. If I had to continue the development from the scratch it will take me years. But I didn’t give up, I search more and more until … found it – something that really like… I found first Seeeduino Stalker v2.0, then Arduino and XBee. I knew XBees and before but I didn’t considered them suited for my project until now.

The Seeduino Stalker is a base platform for Wireless Sensor Network, and at a price of 39$, I considered much cheaper like other similar products. Also, it have enough functionalities for what we need. I ordered 2 pieces and hope to have them next week to start testing. Also, I ordered 2 XBee 2 Series with chip antenna for using with the Stalker. The full list of functionalities of the Stalker are presented in the second image bellow.

Maybe many people are used with Arduino but for me is something new. From Seeeduino, I found Arduino and bought one hardware board Duemilanove. I tested it a lot the last day and I was really happy what was able to implement. The programming of the microcontroller, using the Arduino IDE, is quite simple.

The XBee modules could test since I don’t have them but from reviews I uderstand that they could be very easily configured and used with Arduino board and Seeeduino Stalker.

External Research Stage in European Union, 2011

February 7, 2011 Leave a comment

My research project allow me the possiblity to go to an external University (outside Romania) where to make a part of my project  and then come back to finish it. The external research stage could take maximum of 4 months. It is a good oportunity to see in another place how the research is done and also it permits to create a collaboration between projects, change experience and maybe work together at some research papers. If you are from an University where you have laboratories on WSN, control or monitoring systems or intelligent building systems please send me a message. I will be glad to change some words with you.

Project description


Title of the project:

Contributions at the development of an intelligent area for increasing the energy efficiency in the Institute of research/development PRO-DD

Domain of research:

The technologies in the informational society

Description:

One idea of the project is to stimulate the experimental progress on the research of the wireless sensor networks (WSN) – pointing on the monitoring and control of the office/home spaces (smart office, smart home).

It will be developed a system, software and hardware, which to implement this functions. In the same time, it will be considered to integrate other functional systems, under development as research projects, dedicated for: energy management, for decreasing the energy consumption (by example: the control of photovoltaic panels, hot water panels, automatic change from one energy source to another, intelligent lightning, etc.) and for ensuring of other auxiliary functionality (by example: access control, ensuring the ambient conditions, security, etc.). All the systems considered are part or will be part of the research/development institution.

The system is based on a wireless sensor networks, which to permit the monitoring and control of the offices space or other type of rooms or external elements (equipments).

The final result is to obtain an intelligent building (smart building). All the room of the building will be monitoring using the wireless sensor nodes (hardware) and one system of software applications will permit to view the recorded information and the control of the entire system.