Smart homes could get even smarter with electronic sensors woven into, er, smart carpets. This kind of technology gives us a glimpse of the future and foretells the day when “ubiquitous computing” will enable us to track, measure and analyze everything around us.

A team at the University of Manchester in England has created a prototype carpet that can detect the identity of a person by the pattern of their gait. If a stranger walks on the carpet, it can send out an alert about a possible intruder. And if you fall, it can send an alert to authorities that you might need help.

The carpet is woven with optical fibers that create a two-dimensional grid underneath, much like the way a touchscreen is created. When someone walks on the carpet, the pressure map distorts and sensors relay the information to a computer, which can figure out what is happening. When a change in the pattern is detected, like a body lying on the floor, unmoving for a long time, the computer can sound an alarm. It can also tell if you are favoring one leg over the other one for a long time, said Patricia Scully, member of the team, in an interview with New Scientist.

The carpet could be useful in monitoring the elderly, or just monitoring the safety of your home from afar. Maybe it’s better called a “magic carpet.”

[Image credit: DIY network]

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