5 Burning Questions Answered on Duke’s Smart Home Program

5 Burning Questions Answered on Duke’s Smart Home Program


You asked, and we delivered …

We’re responding to a flood of your inquiries, through comments, social media and email, about the Duke Smart Home Program—a dorm/living lab at Duke University where students experience and test some of the latest in smart home technology.

This summer, TecHome Builder featured a story on this program. While certainly an interesting project, the feature left our readers craving more details about the innovative technology included.

We spoke to Lauren Shum, president of the program, to help clarify some of the tech-related topics surrounding this unique university endeavor.

RELATED: Duke University’s Smart Home Program Ahead of its Time

Top 5 Questions Answered on Duke’s Smart Home Program


[tps_title]Lighting in the Home[/tps_title]

(Photo by Tracey Lu)
(Photo by Tracey Lu)

1. What does the smart home use in terms of lighting and lighting control?

Our lighting is programmable and controlled by a Clipsal C-bus system. It comes with a downloadable GUI that you can use to help manage your lights, and the bus itself is equipped with a serial input-output. There are three main light switch panels in the house, besides the on/off switches in the individual rooms. The panels contain a vertical row of buttons, and beside each is a digital label describing which lights the particular button controls.

Purportedly, we used to have a larger panel that allowed residents to customize which lights were grouped together and what the labels were called, but this was no longer functional by the time I moved into the Home in 2014. Theoretically, however, we can change which lights are controlled by which buttons in various parts of the house. Conceivably, a very motivated practical joker could have the buttons in one bedroom control the lights in another.

During a snow day last year, some students, including myself, sort of reverse engineered the system to allow residents to control the lights in the house via their mobile phones from anywhere on campus. Essentially, we took advantage of the serial input-output and the fact that each group of lights in the house was accessible with a hex address.. -Lauren Shum

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About The Author

Greg Vellante is a staff writer and multimedia specialist at TecHome Builder, as well as a content coordinator for AE Ventures events. He has over a decade of experience writing for various publications on topics that range from cinema to editorials to home technology. His favorite technologies fall into the A/V and home entertainment realm, and he’s keeping a close eye on the rising trends in robotics and virtual/augmented reality. Greg resides in Boston, holds a degree in Media Studies from Emerson College and pursues screenwriting/filmmaking in his free time.

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