Work Package 1, Home Environment Sensing
Lead Academic: Dr Rob Piechocki (University of Bristol)
With Dr George Oikonomou (University of Bristol)


The main project aim of WP1 is to develop a sensor platform for environment sensing and activity monitoring in a domestic setting. The system will collect structured data from multiple sensors. These will be used to build linked data sets that will enable clinical and non-clinical studies requiring home environment data, such as indirect activity recognition or investigating links between environment variables (e.g. air quality) to health monitoring and/or development, including onset, of medical conditions.

WP1 internal objectives are to produce (i) a common, expandable and interoperable wireless sensing platform that requires minimal end-user intervention or awareness, (ii) establish interoperable data structures and processes for accessing sensor data, (iii) investigate, jointly with WP6 and WP5, ontologies of home sensor data that maximise the opportunity for future-proof data analytical processing.


Work Package 1 Sensors
SPHERE environmental sensors, as the most fundamental elements of our smart home technology, are designed as a general-purpose platform with various sensing capabilities, whereby their functionality within the home environment can be customised as needed. Environmental sensors constantly capture parameters and events of interest from their surrounding areas and inform the SPHERE home gateway of any changes taking place in the ambient environment. They are spread across different parts of the house, continuously monitoring power consumption of different appliances; water flow; humidity; temperature; luminosity; air quality, noise level; door movements; and finally human physical movements in different parts of the house.
The cooperation of those sensors with other SPHERE sensing technologies, enables monitoring human behavior to significant details and register the pattern of their interactions with their residential environment in micro-levels.

Variation of temperature and humidity in different parts of the house, taking shower with cold or hot water, switching on the kettle, and walking in different parts of the house are typical examples of such activities that may be recorded with their accurate timing in their given space. In Work package 1, we have designed our sensor platform to be adaptable to various home infrastructures with regards to the size and layout of the property, and their available resources. Therefore, the network of our environmental sensors smartly scales in and out according to their operating environment.

SPHERE environmental sensors are equipped with a range of technological advances with respect to their communication and sensing capabilities. The backbone of such sensors is also very flexible in terms of adding more functionalities and customising their roles in the network. Such flexible features are due to a powerful software layer, in which the operating system takes advantage of the latest research in middleware technologies.

The second version of SPHERE environmental sensors, which is currently under development, is based on the most popular and energy-efficient ARM processor architecture.

The technical genius behind such sensors enabled them to function in an ultra low-power mode, whereby their required energy is harvested from their surroundings. Their wireless communication capability including ZigBee and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), also allows them to secure data communication, minimize power consumption and cover large areas with no necessary modification to the existing infrastructure."