Smart house remembers what you forget

Samsung RFID chips that could enable tomorrow's smart homes
Samsung RFID chips that could enable tomorrow's smart homes

In the future, there will be no more locking your keys in the car, forgetting your mum's birthday or missing that daily dose of medicine.

A team of researchers from the University of Granada has created an artificial intelligence (AI) system that makes it impossible to forget everyday tasks.

The system uses sensors distributed in the environment to detect your actions and mobile devices to remind you, for example, to let the cat out before you go to bed.

Tracking yourself

The system recognizes the everyday actions of the users - in the first instance, elderly people or those with special needs - by means of RFID labels. These tags are discreetly placed on objects that people touch most often, in such a way that, when they do so, a signal is sent to a computer or mobile device situated in the house (or at a remote centre).

The system learns your daily activities using data mining and formal grammar AI techniques, in order to compile a list of actions such as remembering to take the keys or the mobile phone before leaving home. "It is not necessary to use cameras or microphones, and the devices which are used do not entail any technological complications for users, nor do they modify their daily routines", said María Ros Izquierdo of the university's Department of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence.

Izquierdo designed a 'tagged world': an intelligent space which simulates the rooms of a house, with sensors embedded in the environment that help to recognise the behaviour of its occupants. The researchers monitored each user so as to obtain an individualized database. They later verified with a test the reliability of the system and the degree of intrusion felt by the participants.

"The system does not modify the life of the users, but does positively modify that of the people who look after them", said Ros, who noted that elderly people often reject the aid of others and demand more independence.

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.