A Living Convention Center: Data Sensing Lab

If you visited the Google I/O developers conference a few weeks ago, you were part of a giant Google experiment to sniff out everything from your body heat to your breath: a Google Cloud Platform project with hundreds of Arduino-based environmental sensors to collect and visualize ambient data at Google I/O 2013. Google is even listening to your footfalls as part of its Data Sensing Lab I/O 2013.

Google planted 525 powered sensors inside of the San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center that enabled the company to measure temperature, humidity, light, pressure (including nearby footfalls), motion, air quality and both RF and ambient noise. All of the data is sent back at intervals of 20 seconds or so, collected by Google’s App Engine, with analysis performed by its BigQuery Big Data analysis tool.

What’s interesting about these data streams is not their individual data, but the combination. By correlating data, from say noise in the middle of the night, with a peak in another data stream, say footsteps, that might point to knowing what was going on: maybe some individual was still locked in, or the cleaning crew just arrived.  Users can also interact with Google’s new sensor data via the project’s website. Here are some vizualizations made from the data.

It’s not hard to imagine other uses of this type of sensor monitoring for offices, schools and in time entire cities. I just ordered an Arduino starter kit and a basic set of sensors to set up some things in my own house.

Do you have personal experience with sensors to monitor parts of you physical environment? VINT-blogger Rick Bouter also wrote a post on cool Arduino projects if your interested.