CCTV Cameras as Home Automation Sensors
This new technique to compress the time series data collected by my home automation system seems to be working really well.
My year long Bluetooth project that won the $20,000 HCI and Microsoft competition during lockdown has continued to grow and now reliably tracks how many people are in the house and outside and can locate any device down to room level.
An overview of the many sensors I've experimented with for home automation including my favorite under-floor strain gauge, through all the usual PIR, beam and contact sensors to some more esoteric devices like an 8x8 thermal camera.
One way to reduce the volume of sensor data is to remove redundant points. In a system with timestamped data recorded on an irregular interval we can achieve this by removing co-linear points.
ESP32 provides a great platform for sensors around the house but by the time you've added a USB power brick, cable and enclosure it's quite messy. I wanted a device that I could just plug in with no exposed wires and no mounting needed so I designed one in OpenSCAD.
Filtering raw data is essential for a reliable home automation system. Here are some of the many ways you can filter sensor data.
Bluetooth sensing for home automation is a great proxy for people counting as it can detect and locate each cellphone in the house. iBeacons attached to tools, cars and pets can provide a 'find my anything' feature too.
Gas sensors come in many different flavors including CO2, VOC and particulate sensors.
Humidity sensors are great for controlling extractor fans in bathrooms and other damp spaces.
Having at least one light sensor is critical for any home automation system that controls lightng. Lights need to be turned on when it's dark not at specific times of day, especially here in Seattle when it can be dark and cloudy at any time of day.
Microwave doppler sensors can be found in some alarm sensors but there are also available very cheaply as a separate component. They offer exceptional range but suffer from false triggers requiring a probailistic approach to people sensing.
Optical-beam sensors are reliable and can cover a long-distance such as across a garage or aisle-way. When they include multiple-beams they have good false-trigger rejection.
PIR sensors are cheap and easy to use but they suffer from slow response times and low repeat rates.
Strain-gauges are my top-rated sensor for home automation because they are invisible, reliable and can be tuned to detect people and ignore pets.
Temperature sensors I've experimented with for home automation.
Home automation systems need to respond to events in the real world. Sometimes it's an analog value, sometimes it's binary, rarely is it clean and not susceptible to problems. Let's discuss some of the ways to convert these inputs into actions.
Experiments with an 8x8 IR camera for privacy-preserving people detection using cameras.
Pressure sensors can detect HVAC system operation and could potentially detect clogged filters.