SWELED: Self-sustainable Water Leak Detection System for Buildings

Gregory Abowd, Thad Starner
Nivedita Arora, Tingyu Cheng, Sarthak Srinivas, Chad Ramey

Building water leak detection is a time consuming and an expensive problem to solve as often times the real source of the water leakage is far from the location where the leak is detected. Our solution to this non trivial problem is to embed or retrofit wireless sensing nodes in the building infrastructure (e.g building wrap, dry walls, cement pillars) during the construction of the building which can help detect or raise an alarm when water leakage occurs.  Main design constraints for such building embedded wireless water sensing nodes is that they need to be durable for the lifetime of the building e.i. for  many decades and be self-sustainable in their power operation since providing a constant power source or maintenance of batteries is not feasible. Given these constraints our work explores two different types of solutions. First, cheap and simple to manufacture printable chipless RFID solution which can be remotely interrogated on a regular basis to detect leaks. Second is an active notification system which harvest enough energy in the presence of water through different techniques (e.g Electro-chemical  Thermal-electric, Electro-Mechanical) to actively communicate the information about the leakage to the user. We evaluate these system for different performance criteria -- amount/type of water leak detected, localisation of leak, ease of deployment, reusability, range or reliability of communication, cost etc. 


We are interested in ubiquitous computing and the research issues involved in building and evaluating ubicomp applications and services that impact our lives. Much of our work is situated in settings of everyday activity, such as the classroom, the office and the home. Our research focuses on several topics including, automated capture and access to live experiences, context-aware computing, applications and services in the home, natural interaction, software architecture, technology policy, security and privacy issues, and technology for individuals with special needs.