The Future is Here: Control Your Home With a Smart Wall

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We use walls to separate rooms, to have better support in a building and we can also build shelves on them. But that’s all you can do with them. What if we told you that you will soon be able to make your walls respond to taps, swipes or gestures to control your smart home devices and appliances? It’s a dream that will come true for many of us!

You will no longer have to yell at your smart device to turn on the music, but you can swipe your wall and no, you’re not going crazy. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in partnership with Disney Research have found a way to make walls smart, with only $20 per meter.

They call it Wall++ and they used conductive paint and a sensor board to make the wall into a ‘touchpad’ that can sense gestures and an “electromagnetic sensor to detect and track electrical devices and appliances.”

Double-Tap the Wall++ for…

Yang Zhang is a Ph.D. student in the university’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute and he was part of the research team. He explained their experiment:

“Users can control lighting or music play by double-tapping on walls or through swipe gestures. Similarly, users can also touch these walls to send commands to smart appliances such as TVs, Google Home, and Amazon Echo.”

You can use this system for adjusting the lights. Imagine you’re watching TV and the lights slowly go off. turn off the TV and the lights are back on. The wall could also alert you when an appliance goes off and it can also track people that wear electronic devices which emit an electromagnetic signature.

Carnegie Mellon researchers have previously created a system named Electrick which allows you to spray conductive paint on a smooth surface for touch controls.

There is still a lot of improvement for Wall++, as it must be optimized in terms of energy consumption and mode of installing it. But it is a great idea and it’s an alternative to yelling at Alexa!

Another member of the team responsible for Wall++, Chris Harrison, assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University said that “as the internet of things and ubiquitous computing become reality, it is tempting to think that walls can become active parts of our living and work environments.”

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere