Bala Kumaravel, Eric Burger, Nick Renda, Mo Yang
While there have been many advances in the efficiency of lighting, energy is still wasted when the lights are left on in unoccupied spaces. A user’s ability to customize the location, functionality, and convenience of a light switch is greatly restricted by the pre-existing layout of a space. Current solutions use wireless communication and/or motion sensing, but commonly cause user frustration, are difficult to customize, and do not integrate into building/home automation ecosystems. These user pain points slow the adoption of this potentially energy saving technology. Customers want a plug and play solution that requires minimal knowledge of electrical wiring, can be easily customized via a smartphone app to fit user needs, and that better detects user occupancy. Our solution integrates the capabilities found in existing products (i.e. occupancy/vacancy detection, wireless communication, and remote actuation) into a single product. Additionally, we introduce greater customization by allowing a user to change the behavior of switch via a smartphone application (e.g. enable/disable occupancy detection for turning on the lights), to schedule the behaviors of the switch (e.g. occupancy detection during the day but not at night) and to programatically group switches (i.e. software-based multi-way switches).
Our device is intended to replace existing light switches and therefore provides the simplest and most basic functionality of turning the lights on and off when buttons are pressed. This is the easiest task that a user will perform. Additionally, the device implements occupancy detection (i.e. turning on the lights when motion is detected) and vacancy detection (i.e. turning off the lights if no motion has been detected after a period of time). These tasks will be executed automatically and require no direct user interaction. The tasks of actuation, occupancy detection, and vacancy detection are widely implemented in existing light switches.