The SmartHeat system consists of several technologies and building blocks. The main technologies and building blocks are described in the following paragraphs.

smartTRV

Based on IoT technologies, the smartTRV allows every single radiator to be controlled in a smart, easy and safe way. It consists of two main parts, a mechanical part and an electonic part. The mechanical part is the part which attaches to the radiator tube and which has a motor controlling the valve. The electronic part is the brain of the valve and it is the component which allows the radiator to interact with the Internet and directly with the end user. It consists of the following modules:

  • Sensors

    Which are the components allowing the smartTRV to have knowledge of the surrounding environment.

  • Microcontroller

    Which is the brain of the smartTRV and which is able to collect data from the sensors and to control the motor which turns the valve which open and closes the radiator.

  • Communication module

    Which allows the smartTRV to wirelessly communicate with other smartTRVs or with other devices.

  • Battery

    provides the smartTRV with the power to operate. The battery lifetime needs to be maximized so that to avoid that the user needs to frequently change it.

IoT technologies

The smartTRV are battery operated and therefore the communication capability needs to be optimized. They organize themselves in a low power WSN that minimizes the energy consumed to send and receive information. Particular attention will be given to the choice of the communication protocols. The idea is to use standard protocols so that to simplify the communication between sensor modules based on different technologies and provided by different vendors. Example of the protocols which will be evaluated are: the widely known ZigBee; IPv6 over Low power Wireless Personal Area Networks (6LoWPAN), which enables the transmission of IPv6 packets in networks of resource constrained devices; IPv6 Routing Protocol for Low-power and Lossy networks (RPL), which is an IPv6 based routing protocol for the sensor modules; Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP), a Web transfer protocol which includes several functionalities typical of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) which have been re-designed for constrained devices. Other protocols will also be considered to simplify the communication between the sensor modules and other devices, such as smartphones, smart wristband, etc. These protocols are Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Near Field Communication (NFC).

Intelligent algorithms

The SmartHeat system can be controlled by the user but it can also be controlled in an automatic way. Intelligent algorithms will allow the system to learn the user habits/needs and the environmental conditions (room temperature and humidity, presence, light, proximity, etc.) and to control the heating system accordingly. For example, a room which is rarely occupied will be kept at a lower temperature. In addition, the system is able to learn patterns that are frequently repeated, for example waking up at a certain time, or entering the bathroom at a certain time, or doing physical exercise at a certain time. In this case, the system can suggest a scheduling for the heating system so that only certain rooms are heated at certain times, or, if it is set in automatic mode, can control the system autonomously. Intelligent algorithms are also used to send alerts to informal or formal carers when are not at home. If the user sets a temperature but the system knows that the temperature in a certain room is not safe for the user, the system will send an alert (e.g. an SMS) to the relative or to the carier.

Indoor positioning

The user's position over time is needed to allow an optimal heating of his house. At the beginning of the project, the user is meant to wear a smartwatch that positions itself thanks to Bluetooth LE beacons added in the room. This technology is already mastered by UNIGE and the current accuracy (we need room-level for this project) can easily be obtained. This data can therefore be used by other modules very early in the project lifetime in order to study the user's behaviour. However, wearing a smartwatch all the time is clearly a constraint. During the project, we will therefore study new technologies that will allow to position a user inside a house in a less constraining way.

Wearable computing

The idea is to put sensors on a user to obtain the maximum information about his current state (like the body temperature) in order to adapt the room temperatures accordingly. Today different sensors measure a different set of parameters. The target is to provide the most comfortable solution (ideally only a single device, that is light, cheap, with very low battery consumption or even without battery). The main work for this part consists in finding which existing hardware pieces must be combined together in order to obtain the most relevant data, and then to analyse this data in order to know how to adapt the temperature of the different rooms for a maximum comfort.

User interfaces

The SmartHeat system will be provided with older adult friendly user interfaces, which can be adapted based on the skills of the user. The interaction between the system and the users is done via different user interfaces, such as PCs, smartphone or tablet, which also enable the access from outside the home environment, and an easy to use wall display. The usability of the system and the older adult friendly principle will also be guaranteed by the vocal control. The user can access the system by a simple vocal command, such as: "set the temperature in the bathroom to 21 degrees" or even with easier messages such as "I'm feeling cold". The system is intelligent enough to understand the user needs and to adjust the temperature accordingly.

Cloud system, applications and open APIs

A cloud based system will provide storage and application development functionalities. In order to simplify the application development of third party developers, the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) will be developed.

The SmartHeat Architecture and building blocks are described in the following image.

Architecture