Very soon, our homes will be full of smart, connected devices. As you know, almost every smart home Internet of Things device these days comes with a companion smartphone app. These apps are used to control smart devices. But having a separate app for every single smart home device makes the overall experience a cumbersome chore. For example, if you have a smart thermostat, IoT sensors, Amazon Echo, connected fire detector and other IoT devices in your home, you won’t be able to control all these devices from separate apps on your phone without losing your mind. Imagine having to manually open an app every time you want to change the color and hue of your smart lighting system. To solve this problem, Internet of Things experts and researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have come up with an amazing system using which users can tap their smartphone physically against their IoT devices in order to have a contextual menu automatically loaded on screen. Users can then use these contextual menus to control the respective IoT devices. This would save the hassle of manually opening IoT apps for each device. The new system is called “Deus EM-Machina”.
Deus EM-Machina works by leveraging the electromagnetic waves produced by Internet of Things devices. Every IoT device produces waves from its microelectromechanical system (MEMS). These waves are peculiar for every devices. For example, the band, frequency and type of waves generated by a smart home sensor are different from those generated by a fire detector. Deus EM-Machina uses these waves to identify the device in question, and then displays the necessary contextual menu. You just need to tap your smartphone physically against the device you want to use or control. So let’s say you tap your phone against a thermostat. Within seconds, the context menu or companion app of thermostat will appear on your smartphone. This saves a lot of time and boosts efficiency of IoT systems.
Here’s a video you should watch to understand the basic functionality of Deus EM-Machina
EM Sense: Smartwatch-Based Solution to the Problem
Last year, CMU’s School of Computer Science launched an amazing smartwatch called “EM Sense” which picks up the electromagnetic waves of everyday devices from human arm through a watch and shows their related menus and options on its screen.
So let’s say after wearing the watch, you turn on your stove. The watch will show the context menu on its screen and give you options to play recipes, songs, news and related stuff.
In Deus EM-Machina, researchers used a background Android service to show contextual charm menus, buttons and effects. This service has the potential to unlock a whole new world of possibilities in the IoT realm. For example, suppose you are reading a pdf on your smartphone, and decide to print it. In the presence of context-based Deus EM-Machina technology, you would be able to simply tap your phone on your printer (with the opened PDF) and a print command would be generated. Currently, smartphones aren’t aware of their environment, and they aren’t responsive to the user needs.
How Practical is Deus EM-Machina?
CMU’s latest research is based on a newly designed prototype phone. The researchers think that the technology could easily be integrated in popular smartphones.
“There’s no reason this couldn’t be integrated into smartphones in the next few years,” says Chris Harrison, a senior researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.