Scientists at the University of Illinois have developed a “Smart Brick”, which has been designed to be able to monitor the health of a building, potentially saving lives.
The prototype Smart Brick incorporates smart electronics, such as a thermistor, two axis accelerometer, multiplexer, transmitter, antenna and battery. These devices can feed back data such as temperature, vibration and movement, which could prove to be critical information if a building is on fire or has suffered earthquake damage.
The current device uses off the shelf components, which leaves room for improvement and reduction in size. Possible areas for improvement include battery charging by an inductive coil, and combining all the components/sensors onto a single chip, mounted onto a flexible substrate, rather than brittle silicon. This would also lead to new applications, (which are currently under development), whereby the flexible polymer substrate is wrapped around the surface of interest.