The New Teacher’s Aid: IoT Climate Control for the Classroom

Create: 01/31/2017 - 17:42
Paul Rigger, Bosch IoT lab

A team at Bosch IoT Lab at the University of St. Gallen developed Quantified Art, a room climate monitoring system that uses artwork to help students and teachers visualize and monitor what is happening with their classroom environment.

Nothing puts a room of school children to sleep faster than a hot, stuffy classroom. And busy teachers don’t have time to constantly monitor room temperatures and air quality. IoT technology is starting to step in and become the newest teacher’s aide. Bosch IoT has developed a prototype for a room climate monitoring system that uses sensors and classic works of art, letting teachers and students know when it’s time to get some fresh airflow.

Technology development for the climate system began two years ago when Paul Rigger, a PhD student working in the Bosch IoT Lab at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, devoted himself to a project he introduced as Quantified Art. His idea was to use artwork outfitted with IoT sensors to visualize room climate, making people aware of changes in the temperature and climate by altering the color and texture of a wall picture, displaying icons or adding speech bubbles.

Rigger assumed people at home, in an office, in a cubicle or in a conference room all needed real-time information about room temperature. He eventually determined that the ideal setting for his visual climate control system would be at school, as students spend quite a bit of time in their classrooms and need the best possible conditions to learn efficiently and stay healthy.

Learning from Einstein

Rigger and his team moved forward with the project and recently completed field tests of his climate system in a grammar school located in Austria. With the support of the school’s headmaster, Rigger installed 10 prototype art pieces to run experiments that would allow his team to see how the students reacted to the transforming art and also gather climate-related data by classroom. He wanted the students to have maximum and instant fun with the classroom art but also give them the opportunity to take actions (such as opening or closing a window) that could improve their room climate over the course of the day.

His team installed a piece of art—a painting of Albert Einstein—outfitted with small sensors, and put one in each classroom to monitor the current climate. As the sensors detect heat, stale air or other changes in the climate such as a rise in carbon dioxide level, the skin color of Einstein shifts to green. If a student or teacher opens a window near the art and triggers new airflow, Einstein shifts back to his original (normal) skin color.

The students gave the climate change technology high ratings, noting it had given them the power to control their classroom environment. The only request students had for Rigger’s team was the ability to change the art to other famous people (they suggested Tom Cruise or Tom Brady).

Visual Climate Control

The Quantified Art team also developed a Mona Lisa demo version of its technology that displays similar climate cues. Mona Lisa’s skin cracks when the air is dry, and her lips turn blue when the room is cold. She breaks into a sweat on her forehead when the room temperature heats up.

Bosch Sensortec

Photo credit: Bosch Sensortec  

The Quantified Art project uses sensors made by Bosch Sensortec, a company that develops microelectromechanical (MEMS), a key technology used in mobile and wearable devices, including smartphones. The artwork uses the Bosch Sensortec BME680 sensor, which is capable of measuring pressure, temperature and humidity in addition to volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the air. The BME680 sensor can detect VOC from paints (such as formaldehyde), lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, furnishings, office equipment, glues, adhesives and alcohol.

· Learn more about Bosch Sensortec and the capabilities of the BME680 sensor.

· Watch videos of the Quantified Art installation working in the school.

About Author

Patricia Schnaidt's picture
Patricia Schnaidt
Patricia Schnaidt is an expert business technology writer. She has held top publishing and editorial positions at InternetWeek, Network Computing, Windows Magazine and LAN Magazine. Schnaidt has written countless articles, lectured extensively, and authored "Enterprise-wide Networking" (Prentice-Hall). She holds a B.A. in Computer Science from Columbia College, Columbia University.

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