Is your family arguing about what temperature to keep the thermostat set at? We know it’s hot out, but you also want to save money!
The HVAC system of the future could make the decision for you …
In June 2020, scientists from the University of Michigan made a presentation about their idea for a new HVAC system. It would have a camera capable of reading heat signals. This infrared camera would be able to read the facial temperature of people in the room, to see whether they are hot or cold. The technology had a fun name, too: “HEAT” (Human Embodied Autonomous Thermostat).
We here at Ballard thought this was a really neat idea – basically turning people’s faces into thermostats, to decide what temperature will keep everyone comfortable! This HVAC system would then be able to decide what temperature will keep the largest amount of people happy, and it did this successfully in lab tests with up to 10 people at a time.
What is the ideal temperature?
However, this futuristic HVAC system did leave us with some questions, like:
If the ‘HEAT’ HVAC system is supposed to make as many people comfortable as possible, won’t some people still be uncomfortable? How do you really decide what is “fair” for everyone? What if half the people in the room are too hot, and half the people in the room are too cold?
And it’s true, the research team that developed this HVAC system acknowledges that if your goal is to make as many people as comfortable as possible … that still doesn’t mean everyone will be comfortable. And, in some cases, it may mean that everyone is a little bit UNcomfortable, in order to achieve the best compromise! But we still think this technology is so interesting, and could have even more applications in the future, because it would allow an HVAC system to measure people’s comfort and learn their preferences easily.
So what is the next step for the researchers and their HVAC system? They will be working with Southern Power down in Alabama to test the system out with new smart homes. They believe this HVAC system could be on the market as soon as the next 5 years!
However, here at Ballard, we are confident in our own state-of-the-art HVAC systems that don’t require a camera with thermal imaging to keep you comfortable. Our HVAC systems won’t be able to solve any arguments, but they are reliable, efficient, and can save you money on your energy bills!