Application to Classify Electrical Activity in Houses Wins Best Paper and Best Presentation

September 20, 2007

A paper titled "At the Flick of a Switch: Detecting and Classifying
Unique Electrical Events on the Residential Power Line," written by
College of Computing Graduate Students Shwetak N. Patel and Julie A.
Kientz, along with Research Scientist Thomas Robertson, Senior Research
Scientist Matthew Reynolds and Professor Gregory Abowd, has won the
Best Paper Award at the 9th International Conference on Ubiquitous
Computing (Ubicomp 2007), held in Innsbruck, Austria, on September
16-19, 2007.

Shwetak N. Patel also received the Best Presentation Award at Ubicomp 2007 for his presentation of the paper.

"In the last 10 years, there has been a growing community of
researchers who try to detect activities based on simpler sensing
[methods] than a camera. The problem with most of these approaches is
that you have to attach sensors to lots of people, places and things,"
said Adowd. Such a problem is solved by a solution presented in the

The approach developed by the group uses a single plug-in sensor to
detect events such as turning on or off a particular light switch, a
television set, or an electric stove. According to the paper's
abstract, activity-sensing in the home has applications for research in
areas including healthcare, entertainment, home automation, and home
energy monitoring.

According to the Ubicomp 2007 website, the conference series
"provides the premier forum in which to present research results in all
areas relating to the design, implementation, application and
evaluation of ubiquitous computing technologies, bringing together
leading researchers from a variety of disciplines and geographical
areas who are exploring the frontiers of computing as it moves beyond
the desktop and becomes increasingly interwoven into the fabrics of our