The Smart Home Lab is for the planning, implementation and research of technical procedures and various application scenarios in living quarters. The goal is to improve the living quality and safety of the house inhabitants by networking household and entertainment devices (e.g. lamps, blinds, cooker, fridge, video and audio components) and the automation of procedures, as well as to improve the life quality of elderly people with the aid of "Ambient Assisted Living technologies. These devices can be spoken to and controlled over appropriate apps.
The Lab not only focuses on the networking of the Internet of Things and Smart Home devices, it is also used to examine the product management of possible future innovations.
B 2.01 Furtwangen Campus
On the HFU campus in Furtwangen, hidden away among all the lecture halls, libraries and offices, there is also a special little apartment: this is where "Pepper" lives. Pepper is just under 1.20m tall and has about 30 square metres to call home - in addition to a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, he has a multimedia room and a "work zone" at his disposal. Pepper shares the flat with his younger brother Nao, who sits on the floor and waits until he is allowed to play. The two humanoid robots get lots of visitors in their shared apartment, which is in reality the "Smart Home Lab". Internal link opens in the same window:Prof. Dr. Elmar Cochlovius is a frequent "visitor" to the lab as he introduces students from the Faculty of Computer Science to the world of the "Internet of Things" and Digital Mobility. "What this means is that real devices or systems are networked together," he explains. "It gets pretty exciting when these things can communicate with each other!"
So what does the door handle say to the lamp? Probably "Switch on!" because someone has come in. In the Smart Home Lab, students get to try everything out. Multiple computers are connected to the large, shared work table. They not only control all the processes in the flat, such as the heating, lighting or shutters (which can also be operated by voice or the use of "Hololens" glasses), but also Pepper and Nao when they show new visitors around the flat or even invite them to do some exercise. In one simulation, students turn on a reddish light in the bedroom when it’s time to wake up, you hear birdsong, and the website of a news channel is projected onto the sliding glass door - could this be the wake-up call of the future?
The playful approaches lead to research projects that investigate how everyday life could be made easier with the help of technology. For example, Pepper could regularly check on the health of elderly people (and make an emergency call if necessary); in his role in the "Water Buddy" project, he reminds them that it's important and healthy to drink water regularly - and even hands them a bottle.
"A whole other issue is safety," says Professor Cochlovius. "We also make the students aware of the dangers posed by these technological solutions." Sharing your whole life with the internet is not very advisable, says Cochlovius as he holds up an unassuming little device. "Here, for example, we've developed a solution for a device that is not connected to the network at all. It carries out evaluations on the spot." One of its applications checks, for example, whether visitors in the lab are wearing their corona masks correctly.
Fortunately, Pepper doesn't have any of these problems. He'd much rather take a farewell photo with the guest. The funny little guy with the googly eyes also sends it off right away to the printer in the next room – because this time the souvenir is not sent digitally, it‘s handed over "in person".