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Multi-modal Sensor Platform for Occupancy Detection

Syracuse University

Microcam: A Low Power Privacy Preserving Multi-modal Platform for Occupancy Detection and Counting

Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$1,200,000
Location: 
Syracuse, NY
Project Term: 
05/15/2018 to 05/24/2021
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) consumes a significant portion of the energy used in buildings. Much of this is wasted energy, used when buildings are either not occupied at all, or occupied well under their maximum design conditions. Traditional motion sensors are often used in buildings to adjust lighting levels, but they cannot provide advanced quantitative information about the environment. New classes of sensor systems used to enable advanced control of HVAC levels can include human presence sensors, people counting sensors, and low-cost CO2 sensors. Their improved accuracy and reliability can reduce energy consumption for homes and commercial environments.

Project Innovation + Advantages: 

Syracuse University will develop a sensor unit to detect occupancy in residential homes called MicroCam. The MicroCam system will be equipped with a very low-resolution camera sensor, a low-resolution infrared array sensor, a microphone, and a low-power embedded processor. These tools allow the system to measure shape/texture from static images, motion from video, and audio changes from the microphone input. The combination of these modalities can reduce error, since any one modality in isolation may be prone to missed detections or high false alarm rates. Advanced algorithms will translate these multiple data streams into actionable adjustments to home heating and cooling. The algorithms will be implemented locally on the sensor unit for a stand-alone solution not reliant on external computation units or cloud computing. The MicroCam system itself will be wireless and battery-powered (operating for at least 4.5 years on 3 AA or 2 C batteries), and will be designed to be easily installed and self-commissioned.

Potential Impact: 

If successful, SENSOR projects will dramatically reduce the amount of energy needed to effectively heat, cool, and ventilate buildings without sacrificing occupant comfort.

Security: 

Lower electricity consumption by buildings eases strain on the grid, helping to improve resilience and reduce demand during peak hours, when the threat of blackouts is greatest.

Environment: 

Using significantly less energy could help reduce emissions attributed to power generation. In addition, improved interior air quality could help prevent negative effects on human health.

Economy: 

Buildings will require less energy to operate, reducing heating, cooling, and ventilation costs for businesses and families. In addition, better controlled ventilation may lead to improved indoor air quality (ensured by an accurate occupant count, and validated via widespread CO2 detection) may lead to improved worker productivity and academic performance.

Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Jennifer Gerbi
Project Contact: 
Prof. Senem Velipasalar
Partners
SRI International
Release Date: 
11/16/2017