World's Smartest Building?

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) College of Engineering has announced a new research center boasting a sensor driven computing platform to manage people and equipment. University officials claim that the new Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science will host a number of "firsts," including the first commercial sensor-driven computing system using ultra-wideband (UWB) technology.

Developed by location-based computing company Ubisense, the system will utilize UWB radar technology created by scientists in Cambridge, England. The system tracks people and equipment with the use of "Ubitags" that monitor and manage everything inside a building in real-time.

"With the Siebel Center, the UIUC College of Engineering will be able to show the world the incredible new opportunities for increasing productivity gains, decreasing security risks and managing space and infrastructure," said Warren Ferguson, CEO of Ubisense.

In essence, the building itself is a laboratory for the system. Researchers will be able to use digital data in an area of study that has traditionally relied on video recordings and the human eye. The Ubisense hardware and software enables Siebel Center researchers to study how to design and develop applications that will create a seamless relationship between technology in an office or workspace and the people who use it. The goal of the research project, called Gaia, is to design and implement a middleware operating system that manages the resources contained in a given space.

Ubisense products are designed to track and manage all of users' equipment and employees throughout an indoor environment, in real-time, performing to 6-inch 3D accuracy, utilizing a UWB architecture in conjunction with unique Ubisense algorithms. This concept is a quantum leap forward from traditional location-tracking systems, which are limited to 10- to 15-ft. accuracy, making interactions between people and objects unachievable.

The university's Department of Computer Science also became the newest member of the Ubisense Research Community, a consortium of researchers in the field of location-based technologies.

"Project Gaia is a first step in creating a more interactive and personalized relationship between humans and computers," said Roy Campbell, professor, University of Illinois Computer Science Department. "We anticipate that the Ubisense solution will significantly help us achieve our goals for the project and will also keep the Siebel Center on the leading-edge of technology for our students and researchers."

For more information, go to the U of I Computer Science Department .

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