Smart homes

It’s Time To Control Your Home With A Single Touch!

Smart Walls Are Coming

Sit back and gear up! While the world is becoming increasingly more connected with the internet being connected to almost every appliance we have from our phones to even the fridge and door-bells, nothing could be more exciting than the latest innovation in smart wall technology that could very well change the way we live at home forever.

Researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University teamed up with researchers from Disney to transform our old boring walls into marvelous high tech smart walls. Just imagine sliding your hand down on your wall to turn on your television in the living room…or even holding down on your wall to check if the kettle you left on in the kitchen has finished boiling.

How Does This Technology Work?

You might be thinking – Not possible la! Don’t bluff leh!

Must we wire up our entire wall and install touchpads everywhere, turning our entire wall into a giant LCD screen -while spending tens of thousands of dollars in the process?

Nope. The researchers have developed a type of water-based conductive paint that can be rolled onto any wall to create electrodes on the surface of a wall. This innovation, called Wall++, will track a user’s touch and gestures through “airborne electromagnetic noise” — the same type of sensing your smartphone or iPad screen does.

With distance sensing and hover tracking, the smart wall can accurately sense gestures and pinpoint the exact point of where someone pressed or swiped the wall. Press to call and swipe right to answer the door? – It’s definitely coming soon!

But perhaps the best part might be the price tag on this. At just US$20 per square meter, we can probably turn out bedroom walls into smart walls at less than 200 dollars! (Unless your room is really really big lah)

Chris Harrison, the assistant professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) stated that “Walls are usually the largest surface area in a room, yet we don’t make much use of them other than to separate spaces, and perhaps hold up pictures and shelves”. With this in mind, the team has now taken the first steps to turn our walls into high-tech remote controls!

Through its electromagnetic sensory technology, the research team has managed to use its electromagnetic sensor to track appliances like hair-dryers if they are held close enough to the wall. This alone opens up a whole world of household appliance tracking. Not sure if you left the living room’s television on while wasting electricity? The smart wall can help detect if the TV is still switched on and in the future, we might just be able to just swipe down on any wall near us to turn the TV off.

But How Can Smart Walls Really Help Us?

Don’t worry, we have compiled the 3 most common future ways Smart Walls can help us Singaporeans in our daily lives to make each day a little more shiok!

  • Use your wall as a master light switch! Press one thumb to turn on the living room lights, two fingers to switch on the bedroom lights and your entire palm to brighten up every room in the house (as well as skyrocket your electricity bill)
  • Use different poses to trigger different home appliances – stand in front of your wall and point up to turn on the TV, point to the left to switch on your charging ports and maybe even do a little dance in front of the wall to start playing your favorite music beats!
  • Answer the door while you are stuck in the shower! I’m sure all of us has experienced doing our business or taking bath in the toilet while someone is knocking on the door. It gets worse if we are expecting an important delivery from Lazada or Amazon! With Smart Walls, we could eventually just unlock our door directly for our family or the delivery man by just touching the nearest wall. Killing two birds with one touch!

Although the possibilities sound exciting, it will probably take another few years to integrate this technology into our lives and also solve the electricity consumption issue with it.

Will Smart Walls use a lot of electricity throughout the entire day? Can we turn the technology on and off as and when we like? How much might Smart Walls affect my electric bill?

While these are important questions the team at Carnegie Mellon have to answer, it is undeniable that once Smart Walls come into our homes, our lives will forever be changed and there is no going back to the plain old bare walls!