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The age of the quantified family is upon us

Sarah Hostetler looks out from her home in Buena Park, California
Reuters/Josh Edelson
The internet of homes is here.
By Mark DeCambre
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

We’re one step closer to the quantified household.

University of Virginia associate professor of computer science, Kamin Whitehouse, is leading a team that’s designing the software to make it possible. “We need to not just be users of the internet of things, we need to also be objects in the internet of things,” Whitehouse told a Massachusetts Institute of Technology digital summit last week.

Forget that Fitbit health band that’s tracking your sleeping patterns or the thermostat that knows your ideal room temperature. The house of the future will tell you when your wife or husband arrived home from work, what appliances they’re using regularly, the length of their showers and how much hot water they consumed.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the software, which Whitehouse has been working on for three years, also can determine how many times your family has eaten dinner together (and presumably what was eaten).

Here’s a link to a presentation by Whitehouse.

The system works by using installed sensors placed on the top of doorways, like the one seen below. They identify people in the household by essentially measuring them using an ultrasound sensor. (Whitehouse admits this method isn’t as accurate as, say, a fingerprint. But it’s enough to distinguish the handful of folks in a household.)

Kamin Whitehouse MIT Technology Review Digital Summit

The sensors track people’s movements throughout the home. And while tracking family habits, energy consumption and security are the key applications right now, others could include assisting in care for the elderly.

In Whitehouse ‘s presentation, his model home was even able to relay information verbally upon request. Of course, it’s just a concept now. But someday soon, your home might scold you for watching too much TV.

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