Smart home dashboard to better visualize energy usage

April 12, 2018 by Deepti Agnihotri, Duke University
Smart home dashboard to better visualize energy usage
Duke's Smart Home. Credit: Duke University

Duke's Smart Home generates a lot of data about its energy usage, but no one understands what it means—yet. To make sense of it all, an interdisciplinary team of students is developing a visualization dashboard that will convey consumption data in an easily comprehendible manner.

"We want to make the Smart Home more integrated with the technology around it," said Harvey Shi, a senior double majoring in biomedical engineering and science, and president of the Smart Home. The team, led by Rahul Sengottuvelu, a sophomore in electrical and computer engineering, includes students from various disciplines, from computer science to visual studies.

Sujay Garlanka, a junior studying electrical and computer engineering, said the Smart Home has e-gauges installed that show how much energy the appliances are consuming. The e-gauges constantly push data to the internet via an application programming interface—or API—which is a set of subroutine definitions, protocols and tools for building application software. However, the current dashboard's visualization is unintuitive.

Using a virtual machine and Python script to put the data on their own database, the students are experimenting with TABLEAU, a data visualization software, to design an interface that is easy to follow.

"If we have all this data in our database, we can visualize it however we want," Garlanka said.

Right now, the team has mainly been trying to understand what the data can show and discern what residents would be interesting in seeing.

"What questions are interesting to ask the data? Are there particular patterns that are interesting....we don't really know that," said Camilla Vargas, a senior majoring in visual studies.

Vargas, who is writing her thesis on the Smart Home, became involved with the project after hearing about it from a professor. She said working with the team has been fun but also challenging with everyone looking at the problem from different disciplines and perspectives.

"We all speak different languages...and that's the challenge of every group, figuring out how to communicate with each other," Vargas said.

Vargas went on to say that the Smart Home is a continuously evolving space that has "found its identity" multiple times since it was first built. She said it started off as an engineering-focused construction project and then became a makerspace once the Home was complete. But with the opening of the Innovation Co-Lab and Design Pod, the Smart Home must find its identity again.

"Data might be the next hub," Vargas said.

Explore further: Security flaw could have let hackers turn on smart ovens

Related Stories

Security flaw could have let hackers turn on smart ovens

October 26, 2017

A security flaw in LG's smart home devices gave hackers a way to control the household appliances of millions of customers, including the ability to turn on ovens, a computer security firm revealed on Thursday.

Smart home unit Nest is spun back into Google

February 7, 2018

Google is taking back Nest, the smart home unit of parent firm Alphabet, as part of an effort by the tech giant to battle rivals like Amazon and its Alexa digital assistant.

'Smart grid' would save energy, cut costs for US consumers

January 5, 2011

Momentum is building for a new energy "smart grid" that would overhaul the U.S.'s 100-year-old electrical power network. The impact would be huge –– from installation of a new web of electrical transmission lines ...

'Smart meters need a rapid rethink,' researchers say

September 18, 2017

The official UK smart meter network was switched on in November 2016 and since then smart meter devices have been installed in millions of homes across the UK. The Government wants one in every household by 2020, but a team ...

Recommended for you

Technology near for real-time TV political fact checks

January 18, 2019

A Duke University team expects to have a product available for election year that will allow television networks to offer real-time fact checks onscreen when a politician makes a questionable claim during a speech or debate.

Privacy becomes a selling point at tech show

January 7, 2019

Apple is not among the exhibitors at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, but that didn't prevent the iPhone maker from sending a message to attendees on a large billboard.

China's Huawei unveils chip for global big data market

January 7, 2019

Huawei Technologies Ltd. showed off a new processor chip for data centers and cloud computing Monday, expanding into new and growing markets despite Western warnings the company might be a security risk.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.