Smart houses to data sent through light what’s next?
Smart houses – The Open Sky Laboratory for Smart Life demonstrated this week some of its first achievements in applying new technology to very practical necessities. This project, launched by Videotron in 2016, is a joint initiative with the École de Technologie Superieur (ÉTS), Ericsson, and the Quartier de l’innovation (QI). The demonstration of the various technological applications took place at the ÉTS.
Many of the innovations on display aim at developing what has been termed “the Internet of things” that is the ability for devices controlling lighting, heating, air conditioning, the flux of water and so on, to communicate, and be monitored automatically or at a distance. These objects, to accomplish this ability to operate with practically no human intervention, would interconnect with each other in some cases, or interact with their physical environment through sensors in others.
Access to the Internet is an essential condition, given the increasing demands from businesses and individuals. To improve the efficiency of Wi-Fi, Videotron has launched what it has called Wi-Fi SON (for Self-Organizing Network). The purpose of this system is to “transform traditional Wi-Fi access points into a smart network.” The way Wi-Fi SON works is by having the terminals “permanently connected to a cloud-based hub that anticipates and manages the wireless connections of one or more users or things without human intervention in order to provide a seamless experience. Videotron is working with XCellAir, a trailblazer in smart Wi-Fi networks, on this project.” Olivier Kramer, from Videotron, explained to me that this system provides a more focused access to Wi-Fi by automatically placing users in the best frequency band. This network has already been tried at some student dorms.
And then, why rely on Wi-Fi if you can have Li-Fi? What is this? Hacène Tedjini, CEO of Global LiFi Tech, demonstrates how you can actually transmit data not by Wi-Fi, which are radio signals, but by light, in this case, LED lighting. Mr. Tedjini explained to me the advantages of this new technology to transmit data, in particular in places such as hospitals, schools, planes, where radio signals may interfere with their own equipment. It would eventually replace Wi-Fi, Mr. Tedjini affirms, emphasizing some of its other advantages: geo-localization, “each light has a location where you stand it would send you the information” he says. This innovative approach to sending data has not yet been tried in Canada, but it has already worked in France, he adds.
Another interesting display was one in which ÉTS itself is directly involved: Professor Mohamed Cheriet explained how a completely automatic smart system allows the control of lighting, heating, air conditioning, the opening and closing of doors, etc. at the school’s student residence.
And for a project at a larger scale, another display shows an integrated lighting system for the city, which would involve the street lights (smart lamps), traffic lights automatically synchronized to deal with the fluctuations in the number of vehicles, and information sent to passengers waiting at the bus stops.
The Open Sky Laboratory for Smart Life is not only aiming at university or other established researchers: do you have a technology project in mind? “In the fall of 2017, an online project submission portal will go live. Businesses and researchers will be able to submit proposals which will be evaluated by a selection committee. As citizens are at the heart of the project, members of the public will also be invited to submit ideas.”