New development of smart carpet and its applications

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A floor sensor system was set up to detect gait activities by recording the amount of pressure applied in different places when someone walks across it.  

Picture: Mission: Impossible (1996) – Close Call Scene (5/9).

Fans of Tom Cruise may recall vividly in his movie Mission: Impossible (1996), Tom intruded to a room of cyber look through the ceiling. He was hovered just inches above the floor to gain access to a computer, being very careful not to touch the floor. 

Two decades later, we have smart carpet that would make Tom Cruise and his partners even more difficult to get their jobs done.

Smart carpet is generally referred to the floor finishes with embedded electronic devices that enable detection of movements that exert upon it. It is used for monitoring activities of elderly especially those who live alone.

Alongside the development of new behaviour biometric, smart carpet now becomes even more versatile. 

Research team at the University of Manchester

The prominent case here is the research team led by Prof. Krikor OZANYAN and Dr Patricia SCULLY at the University of Manchester. They adopted efficient machine learning methodology to classify gait data from raw tomography sensor data accurately without the need to reconstruct images.

A floor sensor system was set up to detect gait activities by recording the amount of pressure applied in different places when someone walks across it. The team did not use piezoelectric wires or pressure sensors / tiles as other researchers used to be. They used low cost standard polymer optical fibre that form grids to transmit and receive lights.

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Picture: Researchers demonstrate a piece of ‘smart carpet,’ which detects the footsteps of people who stand on it. (Photo: University of Manchester).

 

By using artificial intelligence, the changes in location and amount of lights as caused by human motions, e.g. walking or exercising, are recorded, plotted and analyzed. The complexity of the research lies not only on identifying the types of footstep patterns but also in the necessity to cope with the footstep spatial and temporal variances in the data captured from a real-world gait recording system.

The result was encouraging with high accuracy in identifying pre-defined variants of gait. 

Possible uses of smart carpet

The applications of magic carpet can be group into 2 categories: health and safety; and security. It can be installed to monitor old people’s movements in elderly home, as well as patients in clinics and hospitals, and thus becomes an integral part of the healthcare systems.

For security purpose, such a carpet can be placed to track and identify people who walked past on it at residential and office buildings. They can also be applied in areas where volume of people is high and constant surveillance is required to ensure public safety. These places include transport terminals (e.g. train stations and airports), museums, government premises, tourist attractions and places for entertainment and leisure.

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