SensFloor: Home Automation Underfoot
When you think of home automation, the mind can easily wander and conjure up futuristic images of Star Trek-style automatic doors, auto-serving kitchen appliances, clap-on clap-off lights and movable holographic images of surveillance features.
Although we may not be too far away from features such as these in the home, there is a new technological advancement which is of interest to the home automation installation market.
Typically modern home automation features include lighting, heating, entertainment and security controls which are often controlled from a tablet or mobile device.
One part of the house which many people wouldn’t even consider having internet-enabled or smart technology is in the flooring.
German company, Future Shape, have designed intelligent sensor systems for flooring and mats which can have many benefits across hundreds of industries.
The new product, named SensFloor, is incredibly thin underfloor material which is laced with sensors that react to conductive entities (i.e. people) coming into contact with it.
These sensors then relay the contact information to a control module, such as a tablet, mobile device or wall socket alarm, which can display and analyse all the data in real-time.
Health Uses for SensFloor
The primary use Future Shape sees for SensFloor is safety.
If, for example, SensFloor was used throughout all bedrooms within a nursing home, hotel or retirement home then the staff could be instantly alerted if a person falls in their room.
The diagram below shows how SensFloor would see a person laying on a floor.
Another health-related use could be to prevent those suffering with mental illness from leaving the house unattended and getting lost.
A doormat can be developed to include the sensors so it can be detected if footsteps were felt leaving the house, allowing for a family member or carer to deal swiftly with the situation when they receive a notification on their chosen device.
Commercial Uses for SensFloor
SensFloor could also be used for a number of commercial purposes, such as monitoring footfall in shops for statistical purposes, which will help companies understand peak trading hours or if they are understaffing at times when footfall is high.
Measuring visitation or building population numbers by use of a counter is another potential commercial use.
A door mat can detect which way a person is walking and add a number to or from the total number in the building. This feature can be extremely useful in case of an emergency evacuation of the building such as a fire, and it will allow for fire marshals to very quickly determine if there are any people remaining inside the building.
There is also an obvious security feature with SensFloor. Combine standard motion-sensors with underfloor conductivity sensors and your premises will be completely secure to any unauthorised entry. The alarm could be raised on a centralised security unit or go direct to an alarm company.
Personal Uses for SensFloor
Those who don’t care have an elderly friend or relative to care for, and have no commercial requirement for SensFloor, could still make use of the technology in their own home.
Lovers of home tech may have already invested in an iRobot Roomba, Brava or Scooba, which are automatic robotic cleaning systems.
Owners of both SensFloor and a self-navigational robot, such as an iRobot, and SensFloor may be able to program their robot on set cleaning routes so they never miss a spot to clean, ensuring a glistening floor at all times.
Many people who already have lighting control systems in their house often control their home lighting by using their mobile device, but imagine not even having to get out your smartphone or tablet and the lights automatically turned on when you stepped foot inside the room due to the underfloor sensors? Unlike a PIR, you wouldn’t need to keep moving for lights to know there is someone in the room. That would be really impressive to visiting guests.
SensFloor would be perfect for inquisitive-minded pet-lovers. Ever wondered what your pets got up to whilst you were out at work? Well now you’d be able to track their movements and see exactly what they were doing and where they were going!
Children can make us of SensFloor, as the flooring can be manufactured to be colourful and emit musical notes when stepped on, helping children become more interested in arts as well as potentially helping with gross motor skills.
We saw an example of this type of musical flooring in Stockholm, when flooring was laid on steps to encourage people to walk up stairs instead of using the escalator.