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The imec/UGent HomeLab is an actual standalone house offering a unique residential test environment for IoT services and smart living. A wide range of IoT technologies are deployed, and set-up flexibility to add new devices is offered by means of technical corridors, hollow floors and ceilings. The ground floor area of 240 square metre consists of a living room (5m x 10m) with an open kitchen, a care room (3m x 5m) annex bathroom, a home office (3m x 5m), a multifunctional garage of approx. 50 square metres. At the first floor a master bedroom (4m x4m), a children's room (5m x 3m) and a family bathroom are fully equipped to host potential test users. Next to this two multi-functional rooms (5m x 3m) can be used as meeting rooms. Finally, a cellar of approx. 13m x 12m holds the HVAC equipment, heat pump and the extended electrical cabinets to control all elements in the HomeLab.
Paul Matthijs, CEO NIKO GROUP
“The smart home of tomorrow should combine new forms of intelligence with real user needs and extreme ease of use. HomeLab offers a unique environment to rapidly validate and optimize this.”
Given the size of the house and the diversity of the rooms available and the flexibility offered, this test set-up goes beyond what current, similar initiatives offer. An open Home Automation system based on VelBus and OpenHab technology is installed, able to control all functional elements (screens, switches, doors, windows, etc) in the house. In view of sensors, actuators and user interfaces different off-the-shelf technologies and relevant standards (EnOcean, Grove, UPnP, ZWave, ZigBee, Hue...) will be at hand, next to more experimental technologies and set-ups. In the house, several robots are operational, including Softbank’s Nao and Pepper.
The HomeLab team supports innovation at different stages from concept and co-creation with potential users, to early proof-of-concept testing in a real living environment. Supporting software tools and methods for integration, interoperability, data acquisition and sensor fusion are all available. Application domains can be care, comfort, energy, mobility, media, safety, etc. Personalisation and contextualisation of future services for the realisation of the ‘intuitive home environment’ is a key research focus. As such the HomeLab offers a unique co-innovation space for industry, research groups, non-profit and other stakeholders involved in the realisation of future living concepts.