Deakin researchers find new ways to monitor workplace comfort with Baby Cube

Media release
18 April 2019

Deakin engineering researchers have developed what might be the cutest and most convenient method of monitoring physical comfort levels in an office with their Deakin Cube Comfort Monitor.

Affectionately named the Baby Cube, the Cube Comfort Monitor is a small box, ideally sized to sit unobtrusively on an office desk, containing a series of small sensors for tracking temperature, humidity, air quality (CO2 and Total Volatile Organic Compounds levels), light intensity and light temperature and sound levels.

This data, collected in real time, is available for immediate analysis via a cloud-based web server, giving building managers accurate and timely feedback about comfort levels, such as hot and cold spots in an office, optimum lighting, noise issues and air quality.

Researchers in Deakin's School of Engineering believe the Baby Cube has the potential to vastly improve the management of building resources, particularly energy systems, by making it easier to identify areas in the office where comfort levels are less than ideal or even dangerous to people's health.

Scott Adams, a researcher with Deakin's AIM team, said the idea for the Baby Cube came during this year's January heatwave when Deakin's Facilities Services Division sent out a reminder about managing thermal comfort in the work environment.

"We wanted to know how temperatures and humidity levels fluctuated during that time to help us manage our cooling systems more efficiently," Mr Adams said.

"Contemporary office buildings generally have in-built monitoring systems but that's less common in older buildings so there is a real need to improve how we monitor workplace comfort in older buildings, ensuring the heating and air conditioning systems are working effectively, that lighting is not too bright or too dull and that the room is not too stuffy or noisy.

"The Cube Comfort Monitor can vary in size from individual desktop cubes to miniaturised whole-of-office systems that sit in the corner of a room. It is a low-cost way of collecting data that will help building managers monitor what’s happening in any office, or part of that office."

The Baby Cube research team led by Professor Abbas Kouzani included Dr Egan Doeven, Scott Adams and Josh Holland.

Professor Kouzani said the cube was a good example of how the Internet of Things can be used to improve our daily lives and devices like the Baby Cube can lead to improved health and wellness.

The team is now looking at testing the Cube Comfort Monitor at 15 sites across Deakin, with the aim of commercialising the product later in the year.

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Media release Faculty of Science Engineering and Built Environment, School of Engineering

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