Smart Spaces Lab

Author: Dr Andrés Muñoz-Ortega STSM Period: 2020-01-21 – 2020-01-25

ECI: Yes

Hosting institution: Middlesex University London

From ITC: No



The objective of this STSM is to learn the techniques and equipment used in the Smart Spaces Lab deployed by the GOODIES research group at Middlesex University, UK. The aim of this group is to advance the scientific understanding of the challenges associated with developing Intelligent Environments, including scenarios focused on improving the living conditions of the elderly. The scientific impact of this group and its lab is endorsed by its multiple publications, led by Dr. Juan Carlos Augusto (see The expected contributions are threefold: To explore the actual use of kinesio-logical of sensors in the Smart Spaces Lab, if any, and to discuss several alternatives of how to include such sensors, as for example in what kind of furniture, what variables to measure, what services to offer, etc.; (ii) To know about the actual design of the Smart Spaces Lab and the decisions made by the group with respect to accessibility, the advantages, limitations and lessons learnt during this process. It is expected to discuss ideas about improved designs of rooms and furniture, type of furniture needed, in which furniture place the sensors, how to improve accessibility and advices about low-cost deployments; (iii) To review all the ICT elements used in this Smart Spaces Lab and to discuss with the group about the next ICT elements they are planning to use to extend the functionality of the lab.



The work carried out by the applicant during the STSM has consisted in the following steps:
– Day 1: Visiting the Middlesex University Campus for an initial meeting with José Ginés Giménez, core member of the GOODIES research group. Brief explanation about the GOODIES objectives and its members’ lines of research. Revision of the activities to be performed during the STSM.
– Day 2: Meeting with Dr. Juan Carlos Augusto, head of the GOODIES research group, at Middlesex University. During this meeting, the applicant was made aware of the research group activities and projects, especially focused in the design and development of Smart Spaces. After the meeting, the applicant was introduced to the rest of the members of the group, mostly composed of PhD students and some senior members. An appointment was made for the next day with two members of the group, José Ginés Giménez and Leonard Chimezie, to visit the Smart Space Lab.

– Day 3: Visiting the Smart Space Lab, which is located inside of the Middlesex University campus. The visit consisted in a full explanation and interaction with the different types of sensors installed in the Lab. Live demonstrations of the functioning of the different sensors were made by the two members of the group. The applicant was allowed to take pictures of the sensors that are included in this report.

– Day 4: Meeting with several members of the GOODIES group who are currently working on different projects related to the Smart Spaces Lab, such as prediction of energy consumption, gamification for healthy behavior and detection of dangerous events such as falls. The attendants to the meeting were: Mario Quinde, Godwin Ogbuabor, Leonard Chimezie and Jose Gines Gimenez

After explaining their individual projects, it was discussed the suitability of the current sensors of the Smart Space Lab for active ageing activities and improving accessibility, as well as a brainstorming for new sensors related to these tasks.

– Day 5: Visiting the Smart Space Lab again to clarify some doubts on the functionality of some sensors and actuators. Discussion on where it would be suitable to allocate the new sensors for ageing activity identified in the previous meetings and their compliance with the sensor network. Discussion on proposals of future collaborations.


As a result of this STMS, the applicant has elaborated a white paper attached at the end of this report. It includes the description of the Smart Space Lab architecture, which consists in an abstract framework defining from the data input by means of sensors and HCI devices to the actions taken by the home through actuators, after a reasoning process based on rules and in argumentation techniques to solve conflicts. It is also described the Smart Space Lab layout, which simulates a normal house where the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom and the bedroom are sensorized using low cost sensors. The sensors range from presence detectors to pressure pads to window/door opening sensors to actuators such as lamp bulbs or switches to activate/deactivate appliances. The data gathered from these sensors are used in a reasoning module to infer the context of the occupants and the actions needed to be taken. Once having learnt the details about the Smart Space Lab, a a brainstorming session was held with the members of the GOODIES group in order to find proposals for new sensors/actuators to include the monitoring of active aging activities in the Smart Space Lab. The findings agreed upon were as follows:

• Using the accelerometer of the smartphone to check if the occupant is doing any kind of exercise. This type of data, along with the context that is already inferred by the system thanks to the BLE beacons, may help determine whether the accelerometer activity corresponds to a possible exercise session (e.g., it is more plausible that the exercise session takes place in the living room than in the kitchen). In this line, it was discussed the possibility of using different wearables such as smartwatches or smartbands. However, the majority of the discussion panel rejected this idea due to unsatisfactory past experiences, especially for elderly people. Although it is debatable whether the smartphone is a suitable tool for this age group or not, it seems clear that such smartphones have a greater acceptance than other types of wearables.

• Adding new sensors to create “active ageing-minded” furniture. Some examples on this line are:
– Beds and sofas that “vibrate” when the occupant has exceeded a certain amount of “sedentary” time. This vibration may be accompanied by changes in the room’s lighting (e.g., reddish in color to give the sensation that it is necessary to start moving) or cutting off the TV broadcast to show a message suggesting exercise. It was also suggested the use of virtual assistants such as Alexa, but this idea was dismissed as it may create discomfort in eldery people with early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia conditions.
– Augmented furniture with built-in exercise equipment, for example chairs with foot pedals or tables with hand pedals. This equipment will be sensorized to record the activity of each occupant (identified using the BLE beacons) and adjust the exercise level according to his/her profile. It was also discussed the possibility of adding some kind of augmented reality devices to the furniture, but it was not reached a clear agreement on the advantages of this element.

• Regarding accessibility issues, it was stated that the cost of the new planned sensors must be kept in the range of low-cost sensors that are being currently used in the home, where each of them is below 100£ except for the Vera box. Moreover, it was recommended that the use of non intrusive sensor policy used in the Lab must be kept at all times, discouraging any kind of sound or video sensor. Finally, it was highlighted the importance of an “awareness” period with the occupants to allow them to get used to the new sensors introduced in their home. From experiences in previous projects, it has been detected that the occupant must be involved from the very beginning in the adaptation of house to the new technologies to be used.


The following proposals of future collaboration were agreed with Dr. Juan Carlos Augusto. Note that those involving the joint participation on calls funded by the EU are subjected to the Brexit conditions on this calls:
• Assessment for replicating a Smart Lab Space in the applicant’s home University (UCAM). The applicant will transfer this report to the Research Department of his University to study the possibility of developing a similar Lab or sensorized rooms.
• Joint participation on European call for active ageing, such as the call International cooperation in smart living environments for ageing people (SC1-DTH-04-2020).

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