Author Archives: larryfreil

MIDAS handmade dorm automation system

At MIT a group of students used their technical expertise in order to turn our dorm room allow for complete control of the entire room. There are automated blinds, music controls, and lighting controls. The system allows the whole room to be controlled from a single panel. The designs for this room are online and can be found at: This page details how the system is built and how to do it yourself.

On top of the complete control, various ‘mood’ settings can be set, and the  different components of the room operate in together to create specific ambient background. The speakers will play music according to the mood, the blinds will open or close as needed. The lighting will adjust in brightness. It is even possible to active a ‘party mode’ which turns the dorm room into an instant party.

Flexible Displays

As computing becomes more a part of our everyday lives, new types of displays are required in order to present information. One of these new display technologies include flexible displays. These allow the displays to be used in unique situations where a standard fixed shape display wouldn’t work. The potential for these types of screens to be used in all sorts of ubiquitous computing situations is enormous, which makes these types of displays extremely useful.

Traffic Cameras

In New York City Mayor Bloomberg is trying to crack down on speeding and other dangerous driving related offences. In order to do this he is pushing for traffic cameras on every corner. Automated tickets generate millions of dollars in revenue every year. A side effect of this is that the number of traffic accidents at intersections and areas with these automated systems decrease as people drive more safely to avoid tickets.

Google Glasses

One of Google’s newest announced projects include the google glasses. These glasses are intended to be a mobile augmented reality. These will allow users to perform searches relating stuff going on in the environment. GPS directions might be able to be overlaid on top of the road in front of the user. There are plenty of pros and cons for a device like this. Many of them are discussed here:


“TrackSense: Infrastructure Free Precise Indoor Positioning using Projected Patterns ” Paper

I read the paper on how it is possible to have a portable device that can identify its exact location in a room within a few centimeters. The device built for this uses a webcam and projector to identify location. The projector can display a grid on the wall in front of the camera, and using the geometry of the grid, identify the location and orientation of the camera relative to that wall.

I found this paper interesting because it is possible that components of a smart home may have some behavior based on where they are in the home. Devices such as the Roomba could already have a use for a device that can give the roomba an exact location in the room. Also, this particular technology does not require an infrastructure in the room, so houses would not have to be built with the devices in mind.

The biggest downside with the current device mentioned in this paper is that the prototype was fairly large and cumbersome. This would make adding to other devices and robots difficult. However, the paper did propose many methods of shrinking the device to something more usable. One such possibility would be to use some sort of laser projector that can be much smaller and use much less power than a traditional projector.