World's smartest building?


UK firm deploys first sensor-driven computing platform to manage people and equipment in new US university research centre

As part of the coming revolution in the sense-driven workplace, human-centric computing and smart buildings, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Col

lege of Engineering in the US has unveiled the world's most advanced 'sentient building.'

The new Thomas M. Siebel Centre for Computer Science will host a number of 'firsts,' including the first commercial sensor-driven computing system using Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology. Developed by location-based computing company Ubisense, the system will utilise UWB radar technology created by scientists in Cambridge, England. The system will track people and equipment with the use of Ubitags that monitor and manage everything inside a building in real-time.

'UWB opens up entirely new technology paradigms, where real-time, location-aware and sense-driven systems will revolutionize the way we work, the way we manage facilities, security and people in literally thousands of potential applications,' said Warren Ferguson, CEO of Ubisense.

'With the Siebel Centre, the UIUC College of Engineering will be able to show the world the incredible new opportunities for increasing productivity gains, decreasing security risks and managing space and infrastructure.' For the first time, researchers will be able to use digital data in an area of study that has traditionally relied on video recordings and the human eye. The Ubisense hardware and software enables Siebel Centre researchers to study how to design and develop applications that will create a seamless relationship between technology in an office or workspace and the people who use it.

The goal of the research project, called Gaia, is to design and implement a middleware operating system that manages the resources contained in a given space.

Ubisense products are designed to track and manage all of users' equipment and employees throughout an indoor environment, in real-time, performing to 6-inch 3D accuracy, utilising a UWB architecture in conjunction with unique Ubisense algorithms. This concept is a quantum leap forward from traditional location-tracking systems, which are limited to 10-15 foot accuracy, making interactions between people and objects unachievable.

The university's Department of Computer Science also became the newest member of the Ubisense Research Community, a consortium of researchers in the field of location-based technologies.

'Project Gaia is a first step in creating a more interactive and personalised relationship between humans and computers,' said Roy Campbell, professor, University of Illinois Computer Science Department.

'We anticipate that the Ubisense solution will significantly help us achieve our goals for the project and will also keep the Siebel Centre on the leading-edge of technology for our students and researchers.'

'We're proud to have the UIUC Department of Computer Science as the newest member of the Ubisense Research Community,' said Ferguson.

'The Gaia project is a perfect example of how Ubisense's accurate, scalable, real-time location-based technology can be utilised to produce groundbreaking results. Similar solutions can be implemented in healthcare, security and retail environments. Our new relationship with the University Department is an exciting one, and we look forward to working with the Siebel Centre for a long time to come.'

The Siebel Centre's Dedication and Open House event started on April 29th and continued through May 1st on the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois. For more information, please visit

About the Thomas M. Siebel Centre for Computer Science The Thomas M. Siebel Centre for Computer Science will serve as a laboratory for exploring and evaluating 21st century computing environments, where everyday devices have embedded intelligence and are able to adapt to context and use, sharing information and user preferences by means of ubiquitous communication networks. Information technology infrastructure will be 'designed in' from the beginning, with embedded computers in doors, offices and laboratories, ubiquitous wearable devices, streaming multimedia and tracking, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and stereolithographic fabrication, all connected by wireless and high-speed wired networks for distributed collaboration and adaptation. Interacting components in the building will continuously negotiate with one another, adapting to changing inputs and context - for example, the building would know when a person entered the building while on a cell phone, and that phone conversation would automatically shift to a wall-sized video display. All classrooms will be fully automated and equipped with digital audio/video capture, intelligent whiteboards, wireless networking and HDTV displays.

About Ubisense With offices in Cambridge, England and Denver, Colorado, Ubisense produces real-time solutions and development tools for tracking and managing people and assets within a wide range of indoor environments. Ubisense utilises Ultra-wideband technology to deliver cost-effective, scalable product suites for the intelligent tracking of thousands of objects down to 6-inch 3D accuracy, in real-time. For more information, please visit


For more information on Ubisense please contact Amanda Politzer, hbl media, T: 01223 211 320 (


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