Smart home technology that works on breath control

Smart home technology has brought a revolutionary transformation to our lifestyles, with hundreds of plug-and-play appliances and appliances bringing convenience and efficiency to our daily lives. From lighting and energy control systems to air conditioners and security systems, users can control these devices remotely or program them to operate autonomously.

However, for people with disabilities and reduced mobility, or those who cannot speak clearly, access to smart home technology can be difficult.

Scientists at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio have invented a new controlled breathing device that allows users to command smart technology by altering their breathing patterns. Designed to fit the user’s nostrils, this self-powered unit could improve their quality of life by allowing them to operate smart home devices and appliances using the power of their breath. Users can also program the device to send automatic alerts to medical personnel if a person is having trouble breathing.

“We think having these two capabilities – smart technology control and medical alert – in a small device makes it special,” said Changyong ‘Chase’ Cao, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. who leads the research and development of the device.

Cao and his collaborators recently published their research in the journal Advanced Materials Interfaces. The team included recent postdoc Yaokun Pang (now a professor at Qingdao University, China) and doctoral student Shoue Chen. Cao also filed a patent application on his prototype device.

“Smart technology is great – but only if you can actually use it,” Cao explained. “Our new design would allow anyone who breathes to be able to turn the devices on and off. They could change the settings of a thermostat, for example.

How the device works

An illustration from the academic paper showing how the device (top right) could be used.

The device uses a technology known as triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) or triboelectrification to work. TENGs convert mechanical energy harvested from the environment into electricity, which can then power small devices such as sensors or charge consumer electronics.

This energy present in the natural environment includes rain, wind or even daily bodily movements such as touching hands, walking or breathing.

Cao said the device – dubbed a “breath-driven human-machine interface (HMI) system” – could be available to the public within three to five years.

Abdul J. Gaspar