Disney unveils smart home tech Wall++

It’s not every day that the name Disney features in the proptech sphere. But researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research Pittsburgh have unveiled their work into creating interactive smart walls, which can sense people, track gestures and identify fellow smart objects.

Yes, in our current ‘smart’ climate it appears merely holding a building up is no longer enough. Wall++ was unveiled at The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Montreal this week, with the possibility to revolutionise the smart home industry.

The prototype is remarkably inexpensive, using nickel paint applied to the wall in a diamond pattern, copper tape and latex paint. The set up cost approximately $21 per square metre. Researchers also created a small, signal-emitting wristband to enable user identification, which was responsive up to a three-metre range.

The sensor technology is even able to estimate a user’s pose, and can identify the source of sounds in a room. Researchers outlined a range of potential uses for their smart wall technology, from turning off lights and locking doors, to providing slider input for features such as room temperature and music volume. Wall++ could also offer energy savings, and immersive video gaming experiences.

However, Wall++ still has some teething issues. Fluorescent lights and objects close to the wall provided difficulties for the sensors, and while the technology proves cost effective compared to others, it remains an expensive installation to cover a whole house.

Carnegie Mellon and Disney scientists are not the first to create smart wall technology, with smart glass projectors providing a similar function. However, the interactivity, scalability and scope of potential uses of their prototype is what makes this product so exciting.

Sadly, it’s unlikely we’ll see Wall++ in our homes any time soon, as the technology is still in its early stages. There is no comment yet as to whether anyone is currently interested in testing the product in situ, though house builders should watch this technology with interest.

The full research paper can be viewed here.

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