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Smart Bricks to Monitor Buildings of the Future

CmdrTaco posted more than 11 years ago | from the no-jokes-about-getting-laid-please dept.

Science 142

Roland Piquepaille writes "Scientists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a "smart brick" which can monitor a building's health and report its conditions wirelessly. "This innovation could change the face of the construction industry," said Chang Liu, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois. "We are living with more and more smart electronics all around us, but we still live and work in fairly dumb buildings. By making our buildings smarter, we can improve both our comfort and safety." Built into a wall, these bricks could monitor a building's temperature, vibration and movement. Such information could be vital to firefighters battling a blazing skyscraper, or to rescue workers ascertaining the soundness of an earthquake-damaged structure. These researchers also think these devices could help monitoring nurseries, daycares and senior homes. You'll find more details in this summary."

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Brick (5, Funny)

Luigi30 (656867) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204412)

Will it shoot out gas when someone graffitis it?

Re:Brick (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204480)

Just wait till we see reports about new fiendishly clever high tech criminals using smart bricks for the traditional smash and grab at a jewelers store

ADOPT A PENIS BIRD TODAY (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204579)

Dear rotten.com, I am unsure if you are aware of the problems that your "Incident with the bird" picture has caused on the popular technology website slashdot (http://slashdot.org).
Many users of this site's messageboards are posting links to http://smoke.rotten.com/bird/ [rotten.com] and making text based representations of a bird on a man's penis. Frankly, while I am pro-freedom, this type of photo sickens me. Could you please move the location of the bird page on your site to keep slashdot readers from seeing things that are completeley unrelated to computers and technology? I'm not asking you to remove the content, just to relocate it.
FYI the text representation of the bird is:
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p______...___________________________p
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b___________/___.'_|_________________b
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p________`\__\_______|__/__''\_______p
e__________'._\______/.-`____{}|_____e
n___________/\_`;_.-'_________/______n
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b____.--'`_____,;`'.'-;\_____________b
i_taco's____.'____'._.'\\____________i
r_dick_--'_________|__\_|____________r
d__________________\_\,_/____________d
*p_e_n_i_s_b_i_r_d_p_e_n_i_s_b_i_r_d_*

with a link to the offensive site (http://smoke.rotten.com/bird/ [rotten.com] ) underneath, these "Penis Birds" are posted by Penis Bird Guy, Penis Bird MAN and several other users.
Regards, Andrew J. Tosh

Hey bitches (-1, Troll)

BlackTriangle (581416) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204607)

You stupid motherfuckers. You ridiculous cunts.

Hasn't anyone ever seen the film with Wil Wheaton getting smacked around by a smart building?

You losers. You stupid trolls. You have no fucking class. Where are the Wheaton jokes in this article? You cunts know absolutely nothing.

Re:Brick (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204718)

Shhh... be careful. The walls have ears.

Interesting, but... (3, Interesting)

Keri Immos (681622) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204413)

This could be a very expensive and useless technology. The proposal for it and the quote by the professor who apparently invented it are reflective of the brick's function as more of a "black box", as in an airplane, rather than a useful tool. If the brick says the buildings about to fall, what can the owners do? The excuse that it helps firefighters is totally ridiculous, firefighters aren't going to have time to jack in to a network plug when they're trying to save lives. The other touted use it to sense vibrations. I don't know about you, but I know when there's an earthquake and when there's not, I don't need a brick to tell me.

In short, useless waste of money marketing FUD. Per norm for slashdot stories.

Re:Interesting, but... (4, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204432)

If the brick says the buildings about to fall, what can the owners do?

Get on the phone to their brokers and triple their insurance policy

Re:Interesting, but... (2, Interesting)

hubenshtein (671367) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204454)

I'm sure you could get insurance benefits for your building provided it was built with such bricks.

Re:Interesting, but... (4, Funny)

blibbleblobble (526872) | more than 11 years ago | (#6205140)

"If the brick says the buildings about to fall, what can the owners do?

Get on the phone to their brokers and triple their insurance policy
"

Hopefully before the brick gets on the phone to your insurance company and triples the price of insurance...

Re:Interesting, but... (2, Funny)

morbuz (592480) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204437)

If the brick says the buildings about to fall, what can the owners do?

Get a good assurance really quick?

Re:Interesting, but... (0, Redundant)

Councilor Hart (673770) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204457)

If the brick says the buildings about to fall, what can the owners do

1) Call the insurance company.
2) ??
3) Profit!!

Agreed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204478)

THis is a B.S. marketing piece.

Re:Interesting, but... (4, Informative)

SagSaw (219314) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204545)

If the brick says the buildings about to fall, what can the owners do?

I think the idea would be to detect movement of the brick relative to other parts of the building. This would allow the owner to detect and have the opportunity to correct any structural problems well before the building is in any danger of collapse.

The excuse that it helps firefighters is totally ridiculous, firefighters aren't going to have time to jack in to a network plug when they're trying to save lives.

Remember, not everybody who works for a fire department rushes into burning buildings to save people. Some people at the scene are going to set up a command center. Presumably, the command center would be equipped to monitor such 'smart' building materials and relay important information to firefighters in the building.

The other touted use it to sense vibrations. I don't know about you, but I know when there's an earthquake and when there's not, I don't need a brick to tell me.

After a major earthquake occurs, buildings need to be inspected to determine how much structrual damage has occured. Knowing the magnitude and direction of the vibrations sensed at various parts of the building could help the damage assessment process.

Re:Interesting, but... (5, Informative)

irexe (567524) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204714)

firefighters aren't going to have time to jack in to a network plug when they're trying to save lives.

They do [pswn.gov] actually, or at least they try. They even have time to watch streaming video and infrared sensors. Had you thought your post through a bit, you could have imagined yourself that it obviously pays to know a hazardous situation inside out before you send in more bodies.

The other touted use it to sense vibrations. I don't know about you, but I know when there's an earthquake and when there's not, I don't need a brick to tell me.

I don't know about your specific seismic abilities of course, but for us mortals 'feeling' an earthquake usually means it is too late. That is why so many peopple still die of them. I'm not saying these bricks will solve the problem of early earthquake detection, but they at least stand a better chance at it than you do.

In short, useless waste of money marketing FUD. Per norm for slashdot stories.
(Offtopic)

FUD has become a very easy label to stick on articles people don't like, but it really makes no sense at all in this context, does it? Just as a reminder: you don't have to read the slashdot stories you don't like, o.k.? Just don't piss on a technology because you are not interested in reading about it.

Re:Interesting, but... (2, Interesting)

ramk13 (570633) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204760)

I think you haven't really considered all the uses the researcher was discussing. Obviously if something catastropic happens, you are going to be able to get the general picture by standing outside. (fire, earthquake, etc.) But if there is a fire in a building, where is the fire? How long has it been burning? Is it safe to go in? After the fire, is the structure still sound? Were the materials degraded by heat? Embedded sensors can answer these types of questions, and if integrated correctly with the existing emergency systems, can easily save lives and in the long run probably save money. By getting a better picture of what condition a structure is in you can make better decisions on what need to be done to that structure (without having to make rough estimates afterwards).

Granted embedding sensors is not a new concept, putting them in bricks is a new idea, and if it can be done cost effectively and reliably, it could be useful someday. Nobody said all ideas work, but don't write it off until it's actually been looked at in detail. That's why it's university research and not the product of a company. If it is a good idea we'll see it in 5, 10 or 15 years. If it's crap, it won't succeed.

Calling it a 'useless waste of money marketing FUD' without looking at the big picture is the norm for slashdot comments.

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204787)

In short, useless waste of money

I agree, especially if you look at it as a brick. If you were talking about something that monitored the health of post-tension members in a large building or bridge, that might be interesting. If you just think of it as a proof-of-concept, then it is kind of cool.

The idea that there might be valuable correlation of data between temperature and accelleration is harder to believe. I think someone needed to take a better look at what kind of data could be usefully combined into a single device.

Re:Interesting, but... (2, Insightful)

monkey_jam (557265) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204823)

Did you think of the possibility of embedding wireless thermometers/motion sensors/microphones in them so that in the event of a building collaps, you have a small sensor network listening for signs of life?


I'm claiming prior art on this one.

lol first post bitches (-1)

Slashdotess (605550) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204415)

kekekekekeke

Re:lol first post bitches (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204427)

I sincerely wish you were dead, fuck you.

And you didn't get fp, bitch.

Damn. THer goes one of my favorite expression (5, Funny)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204417)

I guess i cant use "Dumb as a half pile of bricks" anymore.

Re:Damn. THer goes one of my favorite expression (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204458)

You have beaten me to the punchline [slashdot.org] . I am dishonored. I must now commit seppuku.

Re:Damn. THer goes one of my favorite expression (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204534)

I guess i cant use "Dumb as a half pile of bricks" anymore.

If the bricks end up running "Microsoft Windows for Brick Computing" as their OS, you still might be able to.

Re:Damn. THer goes one of my favorite expression (3, Funny)

bj8rn (583532) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204567)

If they were really smart bricks, they would escape from the construction site before getting laid in the wall. But I guess you should still stop using this expression, as you're probably overusing it anyway.

So much for "dumb as a brick" (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204418)

"Dumb as a smart brick" doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

I wonder (1, Offtopic)

seinman (463076) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204420)

how long it'll be before the paranoid slashdotters come in and say "and they'll monitor your every move with it!" Happens when every story about technology like this is posted.

Re:I wonder (1)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204469)

how long it'll be before the paranoid slashdotters come in and say "and they'll monitor your every move with it!"
Hey! You're spying on me, ain't ya!

Re:I wonder (1)

moofdaddy (570503) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204546)

you know I just thought of something....this might allow the goverement to monitor our movements!

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204616)

The sad thing is, you're right [slashdot.org] .

Re: I wonder (1)

bj8rn (583532) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204634)

This was about the second thought that popped into my mind when reading the article. And then I laughed and cast it aside as ridiculous and pointless - there are far easier ways of monitoring someone. But some people have actually already posted such comments below. Am I a sheep now?

Smarter People (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204422)

Now if we could just monitor the people inside the building for intelligence...

wait a min... (4, Funny)

3ryon (415000) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204424)

Such information could be vital to firefighters battling a blazing skyscraper...

Finally, a solution for all of those brick skyscrapers.

I heard that, but you wanted it that way. (4, Interesting)

twitter (104583) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204662)

Finally, a solution for all of those brick skyscrapers.

It's called a curtian wall. It's not structrually bearing, but cinder blocks might be the cheapest way to do it. When you put them around a fire escape, they can keep you from cooking as fast.

I'm not sure I want "vibration" sensors in my walls for the local police department, nosy neighbors or anyone else to listen to. My voice is a "vibration" and what I say in my house and place of work is for those around me, not big brother.

Cinder blocks (2, Informative)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204721)

Only one problem with cinder blocks ..... they are actually somewhat inflammable. The value of the energy in power plant ash is less than the cost of recovering it {though one would expect newer plants to make a better job of getting all the heat out of the coal} ..... but if you heat it up hot enough, it will start to undergo a chemical reaction with air ..... in other words, go on fire .....

Re:wait a min... (1)

Chilak (660131) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204948)

Wether the entire building consists of bricks or not is irrelivant. The bricks will be placed withing the concrete. Just because they are smart bricks doesnt mean they cant be applied to say, concrete walls.

Chilak.net

Hehe Smart Bricks (2, Interesting)

executebusiness.com (681094) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204429)

"Smart bricks" invented this technology! I can just picture the board meeting where they sat around talking about how they could sell bricks for $220 USD ea.

Joking asside, construction material that provides feedback is likely better than construction material that does nothing but watch the paint flake.

Re:Hehe Smart Bricks (2, Funny)

xphread (584401) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204496)

construction material that provides feedback is likely better than construction material that does nothing but watch the paint flake


Yeah, thats a job for managers.

Power source? (1)

chundo (587998) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204835)

I'd hate to be the maintenance guy when the batteries start needing replacement...

Or do the inventors presume that the cost of wiring every brick into the electrical system will be worth the potential benefits?

-j

Just a form factor readjustment of old tech. (3, Interesting)

Peter Cooper (660482) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204438)

The problem with technologies like these are that they're simply form factor adjustments of existing technologies.

Currently you can very easily put temperature sensors (or even seismic detectors) in a building, but this project wants to put these items into a brick with a wireless connection. Is this really a story? Sure, such a brick might exist in every new building in the future, but you could have this in your home right now, in a small box containing the same gadgets. Putting it in a brick just doesn't seem that exiting, y'know?

This is like the 'building a PC without a case' stories we see from time to time, but without the humor value of seeing someone mount a motherboard in a cardboard box.

It's the apocolypse, people! (3, Funny)

Mr. Grimm (599800) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204440)

First we give buildings the ability to feel. Then we let them think. Twenty years from now houses are eating families after they don't get the foundation fixed quick enough. Stop the madness!

Re:It's the apocolypse, people! (1)

xenolaeus (584541) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204551)

Well, actually.. it's the first step towards bringing Mark Danielewski's novel, _House of Leaves_, to life. Pretty soon they'll find a way for houses to be bigger on the inside than they are on the outside.

ObSimpsons: (was Re:It's the apocolypse, people!) (1)

BabyDave (575083) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204656)

"Man has always loved his buildings, but what happens when the buildings say no more?"
("When Buildings Collapse" on Non-Stop Fox)

Re:ObSimpsons: (was Re:It's the apocolypse, people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204677)

God that was a classic episode. When they showed that old house with "The House of Usher" sign on it collapsing, I thought I was gonna piss my pants laughing.

7:36pm Friday night, near a local bar... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204444)

...Central Brick Control receives a flurry of messages from several bricks in the same building:

"Ewwww! I'm being peed on!"

Re:7:36pm Friday night, near a local bar... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204513)

More like a /. of messages.

Re:7:36pm Friday night, near a local bar... (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204741)

Now that's what I call putting the slash in slashdot effect!

The more technology takes over peoples lives.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204446)

The more technology takes over peoples lives the happier I am. Things like this mean that there will always be jobs for us geeks no matter what.

Fuck the recession, there is no recession!

Re:The more technology takes over peoples lives.. (1, Flamebait)

SweetAndSourJesus (555410) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204532)

"Fuck the recession, there is no recession!"

I almost spit out my ramen when I read that, but I can't afford to waste food.

Re:The more technology takes over peoples lives.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204604)

im from the UK btw

Daycare? (1)

compwiz3688 (98919) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204456)

These researchers also think these devices could help monitoring nurseries, daycares and senior homes.

Beep, Beep, Beep.
Baby #63 needs a diaper change.

Re:Daycare? (1)

Have Blue (616) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204901)

If a device calibrated to detect seismic events picked it up, that was one hell of an accident...

mark of the brick (2, Funny)

freedommatters (664657) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204461)

hey, it's this bit that gets me "These researchers also think these devices could help monitoring nurseries, daycares and senior homes"

how long before they are in ALL homes by law?

it's biblical. remember that bit about no one being able to buy or sell without the mark of the beast?

it was a bad translation, they meant mark of the brick - the one that says "quality bricks designed to last"

john
are you a weapon of male destruction? you need one of these snazzy t-shirts [wildjelly.com]

maintenance (5, Insightful)

Orgasmatron (8103) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204471)

Bricks can last for literally hundreds of years with little to no maintenance. Anyone want to put bets on the lifetimes of these worthless gadgets?

Re:maintenance (2, Informative)

Have Blue (616) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204912)

If they can be externally powered (like RFID chips on a larger scale), and use solid-state technology that, as greenpeace loves to point out, is not biodegradable, then they can probably last for quite a while.

Ahh....the real reason for IPv6 (4, Funny)

bravehamster (44836) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204472)

Let's see....IPv6 should give us enough IP addresses so every brick can have their own address. Hope the building doesnt stop you from moving from one area to the other if you set your subnet wrong.

Destined for failure: (4, Funny)

Asprin (545477) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204479)


Wow, it's gonna suck upgrading all of those when new a kernel comes out.

Batteries (1)

hubenshtein (671367) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204491)

I wonder how one would go about changing the batteries in such a device.

Hahahaha... (0, Troll)

Krapangor (533950) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204498)

Such information could be vital to firefighters battling a blazing skyscraper, or to rescue workers ascertaining the soundness of an earthquake- damaged structure

Do you really believe this rubbish ?
At a decent fire or after a serious earthquake or your fine logic in the bricks will be fucked up and of no use at all.
However, there is use for such logic in bricks. But not when earthquakes are there.
It's rather simple to reprogram the sensors to wiretap people and communication devices. If you are really clever you can get even 3D low-res infrared images from the rooms. Not good for face recognition, but enough for monitoring the location of people. And, hey, you can even couple this with RFID tags. These thing will be on anything you purchase in a few years and they fit prefectly into this setting.

Guess why US Army and NSA are sponsoring research in nanotech.
Only fools believe this "helping building" nonsense. But, hey, these chains are just there to protect us from running away and harming us...

Old news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204593)

I soviet russia kgb have used vibration monitoring in the walls for ages, monitoring the "health" of the buildings and as a side effect the "health" of the people inside as well.....Brilliant technology.

You're paranoid (1)

bj8rn (583532) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204894)

The problem with all the "big brother watches everyone" theories is, that this kind of system isn't efficient. Even if the "sheep" themselves pay for the bricks, it would still cost a lot of money and time to gather and analyse all this information - but the US federal agencies are already having trouble with information overload. It's not as if the Al Quaeda were not monitored before 11.09.2001, but the information was overlooked. They can tap you now, too, if they need to. No reason to panic.

inflexible (3, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204504)

Built into a wall, these bricks could monitor a building's temperature, vibration and movement.

...and built into a wall, there's no way to fix the 'brick' when it breaks down and stops working. All of the above functions can be performed by sensors ON the wall,floor, ceiling, etc- or post-construction inside the wall, accessible via an access panel. Or you can make a brick that's not completely 'built in'- ie, you make a place for it, a box or something- and the sensor can still be serviced, you still get advantages of easy installation, etc.

So maybe you put a slew of them in-I suppose ease of installation counters the increased cost of deploying more of them. But still, that's great- now you've raised the chances that one of them will fail(since there are more of them)...and they're possibly more unreliable, and accuracy or precision will be worse since, well, you made 'em cheaper.

I'm waiting for Smart Brick 2.0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204514)

That's the one that throws itself through your enemy's window automatically!

Re:I'm waiting for Smart Brick 2.0 (3, Funny)

rkz (667993) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204625)

and Smartbrick 3.11 which adds networking for small groups

Reinventing the Wheel (2, Insightful)

d'fim (132296) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204521)

Why not just add sensors to the existing power and/or data infrastructure? Like the safety device vendors are already doing? Bricks could be used to supplement that, but using these bricks in place of existing technology seems silly.

I'm a brick and I'm drowing slowly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204530)

I love it when a techi suggests somthing will be revolutionary to a discipline that they know little about.

I'll be more impressed if an architect likes it.

Now when the walls talk to me, (3, Funny)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204549)

I can't actually be sure I'm insane.

pillow-biter report (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204552)

Last night i saw a guy (more on this next paragraph) with black hair in a pony tail, and a mouth stud, positioned between his lower lip and his chin.

When I see oddbal piercings in a guy, I immediatly assume he's into S & M, homosexuality, fisting, etc. Presumably, he also has a prince albert, and there's a good chance he is castrated. I didn't ask him (if he's not gay, he might kick your ass, and if he is gay, he might fuck your ass), but I'm sure he'd fit right in at the geek compound.

Top 3 Things Said About Smart Bricks (1)

whovian (107062) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204620)

3. If a smart brick comes crashing in through the window, don't duck....it will veer out of the way to avoid hitting you.

2. Oh yeah, how 'bout wrapping that sensor around THIS finger? [Take your pick which anatomical region you prefer.]

1. Huh? You mean central Illinois has buildings, let alone any actually made of brick?

Favorite quote (2, Funny)

serutan (259622) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204622)

"In the gaming industry, wireless sensors attached to a personâ(TM)s arms and legs could replace the conventional joystick and allow a âcouch potatoâ(TM) to get some physical exercise while playing video games such as basketball or tennis."

I get it. Sort of like if they got off the couch and played the actual sport. Uh...

More Like the Powerglove (1)

inKubus (199753) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204772)

Which, I might mention, I love. It's so bad.

Re:Favorite quote (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204919)

There's a simple solution, you just make a human sized robot, then you can hook the sensors up to that, and control that robot with a joystick.

Gives whole new meaning to when someone accuses you of cheating by using a bot.

Yeah, 110,000 bricks all saying (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204628)

"Help I've fallen and I can't get up!"

The problem is the micro scale versus the macro scale. While you think having bricks with humidity sensors would help you find a leak in a wall, just find the first brick that reported wetness, they wouldn't work in the rain.

What's a brick going to tell you during a California earthquake? "Dude ... I'm feeling shaky."

Unless a brick can report its actual position and orientation in 3D space along with any delta since is was laid (better be none) you can't tell anymore about "settling damage" than with a visual inspection. But GPS down to the fraction of a centimeter is beyond what the military has access to.

Its one thing to have sense organs as part of a structure but they have to be extremely cheap, utterly reliable and infallibly interpretable.

Re:Yeah, 110,000 bricks all saying (1)

bj8rn (583532) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204773)

While you think having bricks with humidity sensors would help you find a leak in a wall, just find the first brick that reported wetness, they wouldn't work in the rain.

Have you ever seen a brick house being built? Not all bricks are on the outside, some never get wet unless there's a leak somewhere

What's a brick going to tell you during a California earthquake? "Dude ... I'm feeling shaky."

I guess by knowing which bricks are under the most stress or which ones break first in case of earthquake, you can find the weak spots in buildings and build better houses in the future (they already do this in small scale, at least with scyscrapers, but a model is always a model...).

Reletive Delta (2, Informative)

inKubus (199753) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204821)

Unless a brick can report its actual position and orientation in 3D space along with any delta since is was laid (better be none) you can't tell anymore about "settling damage" than with a visual inspection. But GPS down to the fraction of a centimeter is beyond what the military has access to.

What about relative deltas. IE, you have 1000 bricks stacked up, and you monitor all of them. The wall starts bowing inward. If the bricks are capable of communicating with neighboring bricks and measuring how they are moving relative to each other, the problem is solved.

If you add up all of the individual deltas, brick to brick, you end up with a curve which represents the total movement of the wall.. You wouldn't even need a fixed reference, although that would be useful to relate your new data to other external objects, like the earth, or another wall, or the roof..

Shiny Happy People Holding Hands! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204637)

GAY mystical DRAGONS swim through the air above you tickling themselves with pieces of pizza and clicking their blue high heels together with a crooked toothy grin and singing:

"Shiny happy people laughing Meet me in the crowd
People people Throw your love around Love me love me Take it into town Happy happy Put it in the ground Where the flowers grow Gold and silver shine Shiny happy people holding hands Shiny happy people laughing Everyone around love them, love them Put it in your hands Take it take it
There's no time to cry Happy happy Put it in your heart Where tomorrow shines Gold and silver shine
Shiny happy people holding hands Shiny happy people laughing" - REM, Shiny Happy People

this is perfect (2, Interesting)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204649)

so not a hacker or the government can egt inside out homes and monitor our activities.....and law enforcment does not even need to bug a house they can just hack into the bricks.

you all forgot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204681)

forgot to mention about the smart door, and the smart toilet and the smart window, so when someone who's feces really stinks, the building can open up a window, flush the toilet several times and lock the doors so this guy can never get back in. Sorry, I have to go and poop.

drywall (1)

wwwillem (253720) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204684)

Mmmm, an intelligent piece of drywall would probably be more usefull in the typical american lumber and cardboard construction :-).

Grandma was right (2, Insightful)

Embedded Geek (532893) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204694)

Whenever she was concerned about being overheard, my Grandam would caution us: The walls have ears.

Who knew - the old girl was right.

Re:Grandma was right (1)

stakman (662655) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204898)

Seriously, who's to stop people from putting microphones/other recording devices along with the sensors in the bricks. With the wireless capabilities, they'll be able to transmit whatever they record, and the government/other evil agency will be able to download every conversation that takes place in the house.
Paranoid thinking?.. Let's hope so.

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (2, Funny)

Eric Destiny (255168) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204699)

in soviet russia, smart bricks monitor yoU!

Re:IN SOVIET RUSSIA (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 11 years ago | (#6205381)

Yep USSR Should have patented those bricks (IIRC back in the 70s or 80s one American Embassy built in the USSR had Listening Devices in just about everything - including the bricks.)

fuck UIUC (0, Funny)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204706)

My girlfriend transfered there and then broke up with me!

Erm, that's the way I like to remember it, anyway...

Oblig: Beowulf Cluster... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204743)

- Imagine a Beowulf Cluster of those things!
- Dude, its called a *wall*

A Smart Brick, eh? (0)

DarthVeda (569302) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204750)

So will it tattle on me if I shatter somebody's window pane with it? :)

Ad Hoc Networking (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204763)

The real development out of this is the application for ad hoc networking. A building full of sensors must be managed. Managing millions of bricks (or any trivial item), where each brick is effectively a base station will be a challenge. Overcoming this challenge will be very beneficial to our networking theory(not necessarily IP). This is step one for sensor networks.

I applaud the effort however, I don't beieve this particular product is good but it is a start. Slapping a sensor onto the side of a brick doesn't seem like any real invention. THe sensor must be inside the material and completely unnoticeable (small). The sensors of the future will be extremely cheap and mass produced. It should add nothing to the cost of the material and should also have lots of developed applications to drive its deployment. This is a nice idea but shows how Universities (and academia) have no idea how to amke a sellable product.

your area of expertise is showing (5, Interesting)

skepton (681359) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204778)

If you look at the vibrations coming out of a building that is burning there is a huge jump in the amplitude of certain bands right before the building collapses.. there's basically a shift in the fundamental frequency of the building. A brick to detect this is gonna save alot of firefighters.

Basically, any structure like a bridge or a building can be characterized pretty well by its frequency response. You stimulate it with an impulse and transform the output to the frequency domain. A burning building is being constantly stimulated, so detecting the vibrations with a brick in the wall is going to let you easily determine the frequency response.

As you can imagine (this is a generalization) if there's a large spike in certain frequencies, the structure is unstable. When you engineer structures, you try and keep the frequency response flat.

But i *like* being a couch potato! (0)

segfaultdot (462810) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204796)

"In the gaming industry, wireless sensors attached to a personâ(TM)s arms and legs could replace the conventional joystick and allow a âcouch potatoâ(TM) to get some physical exercise while playing video games such as basketball or tennis."

Not happening... same problem as with the power glove and DDR-type home game systems. Dancing around is great for strutting your stuff at the mall/arcade, but at home 90% of folks would rather just sit on the couch and use a joystick... at least 90% of the /. crowd, anyway.

Leave my ass and walls alone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204844)

Maybe those airlines could save a buck on their smart seat plans and shove one of these smart bricks under each chair. Might even make them a tad more comfy.

movie (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204846)

Brickinator 3 rise of the bricks

Your Honor, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204904)

I didnâ(TM)t mean for the brick to break the window. I was applying an update and I placed the patch in the wrong directory.

Slightly Paranoid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6204923)

I may be slightly paranoid but doesn't this mean that we can now expect the FBI applying for wiretaps on buildings during construction?

Voices Make VIbrations (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204939)

SO it would be rather easy to monitor conversations in buildings.

Especially when there is more then one brick, then you could triangulate the speaker, and filter out noise. And report back any 'suspicious conversations, even in a private home.

Then add the ability to track the chips that will eventually be implanted in people, then you got instant 'undesirable' tracking in every building.

I feel so much safer now. Don't you?

Smart Bricks (1)

heptapod (243146) | more than 11 years ago | (#6204965)

Didn't Edgar in Electric Dreams already invent these?

Saves civil life (1)

spaic (473208) | more than 11 years ago | (#6205004)

It will automatically home in on the police when thrown by violent demonstrators.

What are the odds? (2, Insightful)

ccnull (607939) | more than 11 years ago | (#6205015)

What are the odds that, 50 years from the time the bricks are installed, the technology will still be around to access the data from the brick? The information will probably be most useful once the building really starts to decay -- if this technology had been around 50 years in the past, we'd all still need room-sized mainframes in order to access the data our buildings are providing us -- or, failing that, we'd need to rip out all the smart bricks and upgrade them with new ones. Either way, $$$... The wireless technology alone will be obsolete within 3-5 years, I'm sure.

Just a thought...

Stepping Outside of the Smart Brick Article (1)

Nogid Villson (681638) | more than 11 years ago | (#6205121)

The idea of measuring temp and loads in a brick structure may be useful in some buildings but not all. Perhaps this technology may be applied to other building materials on site, as the structure is being built. A weekly log or journal could be loaded into the "chip" recording the weeks events: the architect and general contractors' meetings, workers names and thoughts, subcontrators present at site for the week, etc. This would record a history of the building for historical purposes and future troubleshooting. Major construction sites ( well, say a building by Frank Gehry) would have an "real time historian" on site recording daily activities. Fast forward 100 years later, tours of the building are given by a hand held docent. As the tourist makes his or her way through the building he/she receives the weekly logs at each point where applied. Or the building has roof problems, before repairs are made one may view info from the "chip" near the roof, listening or reading the meeting between the contrator and architect. Journals or history recorders could be applied to an object for any activity. Imagine visiting a city and as you drive or walk around you could pick up freqencies of the past. You see the structure/object and then it's life appears on your hand held.

My Concern (1)

Lucidus (681639) | more than 11 years ago | (#6205282)

What is the average life of a building? Now, what is the average life of electronic components? And what is the average life of data formats or transmission protocols?

Uses?? (0)

Piranhaa (672441) | more than 11 years ago | (#6205314)

Btw, who really uses bricks anymore for skyscrapers who would need it most anyways?

Only one focal point of the wall (1)

eniacx (615658) | more than 11 years ago | (#6205337)

In order for this to be useful wouldn't there have to be multiple 'smart bricks' on a single wall. Measuring the stress of a brick wall at one focal point isn't very useful. What about having multiple smart bricks on each wall. The bricks should communicate with each other in order to create a total assessment of the wall's integrity. eniacx

Earthquake? (1)

Lucidus (681639) | more than 11 years ago | (#6205413)

One possible use for these things is supposed to be "ascertaining the soundness of an earthquake-damaged structure." But, as anyone who has ever lived in San Francisco can tell you, you just don't build with bricks and masonry in earthquake zones!

I think this engineer needs to get out of the lab occasionally.
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