ITI Talks: Tangible UIs and energy consumption

The Interactive Technologies Institute recently hosted on February 10 its second ITI Talk event of 2023. The team discussed research on tangible user interfaces and optimization of energy consumption.

Tangible user interfaces: digital meets physical

Ana Pires is Psychologist and a post-doctoral researcher at the Interactive Technologies Institute. She was the first ITI Talks speaker of the morning, who used her time to review her past research. Over the years, Ana has been working on Tangible User Interfaces (TUIs) for children. A tangible user interface (TUI) is a user interface that allows for physical environment interaction with digital data. By giving digital information physical forms, TUI development aims to facilitate collaboration, learning, and design while utilizing people’s natural grip and manipulation of physical items and materials.

Focusing on children, she developed multisensory systems to create embodied and playful learning experiences through interaction with real objects. She aims to enhance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills with CETA and TACTOPI. CETA’s goal is to teach basic mathematics to sighted children. On the other hand, TACTOPI aims to promote computational thinking, navigation, and inclusion among children with mixed visual abilities.

Optimising energy consumption with Non-intrusive Load Monitoring

João Góis, ITI Talks speakerIn Madeira, João Góis presented the work he is developing under his PhD fellowship, which Professors Lucas Pereira and Nuno Nunes supervise to the ITI Talks audience. His work is related to finding ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to help combat climate change. João and his supervisors believe that Non-intrusive Load Monitoring (NILM) is a valuable tool for helping people optimize their energy usage and reduce their environmental impact.

NILM identifies and tracks the energy usage of individual appliances or devices within a household or commercial building without the need for intrusive sensors. The basic idea behind NILM is to analyze the changes in the overall power consumption of a building or home. With that data, it is possible to identify the unique patterns of energy usage associated with different appliances or devices. When a person turns on a washing machine, the machine consumes a certain amount of energy. Smart meters are devices that can detect that power consumption. This energy consumption pattern is unique to the washing machine and can be used to identify when it is being used.

However, there is a problem with how the data is collected and evaluated when using NILM. Currently, there are issues that can affect the accuracy of the results. João believes that the scientific community needs to continue to work to improve the quality of the data and the methods used to evaluate it. When optimised, consumers could use NILM on a larger scale in real-world situations.

The Interactive Technologies Institute will host the next ITI Talks event on March 10 at 12 pm.