Wristband Enables Better Tracking Of Individual Electricity Use

The MagnifiSense, which will be presented at the ACM Ubicomp 2015 conference in Japan, identifies the unique electromagnetic radiation signatures generated by electronics or motors.

Mnet 171238 Magnifi Sense Photo 375x267

Photo courtesy of the University of WashingtonA wristband developed by University of Washington engineers could help improve its wearers' interaction with electronic devices.

The MagnifiSense, which will be presented at the ACM Ubicomp 2015 conference in Japan, identifies the unique electromagnetic radiation signatures generated by electronics or motors.

The sensor can pinpoint when the wearer flicks a light switch or boards a train, as well as identify how much energy that device consumes.

"Right now, we can know that lights are 20 percent of your energy use," said UW's Shwetak Patel. "With this, we divvy it up and say who consumed that energy."

Following a one-time calibration, MagnifiSense correctly identified 94 percent of interactions with common devices; without the calibration, the sensor identified devices at an 83 percent clip.

Read more: Internet of Things: The future of manufacturing.

In addition to tracking individual carbon footprints, the technology could also help identify user preferences in Internet-connected devices and offer additional safety features — including monitoring how long a stove is left on and keeping tabs on those in elder care.

The researchers hope to improve the sensor’s performance among multiple devices in close proximity, as well as shrink the design into something that could be embedded into a watchband.

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