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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R032750/1
Title: PV-Interfaces: Self-Powered Interfaces and Interactions via Photovoltaic Surfaces
Principal Investigator: Jones, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Sahoo, Dr D Carnie, Professor M Pearson, Dr JS
Tsoi, Dr W Robinson, Professor SNW
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
DST Innovations Ltd Google HAB Housing Limited
Hewlett Packard Inc Indian Inst of Technology (IIT) Bombay
Department: College of Science
Organisation: Swansea University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 18 September 2018 Ends: 21 January 2022 Value (£): 738,112
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Human-Computer Interactions
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
06 Feb 2018 ICT Cross-Disciplinarity and Co-Creation Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Increasingly, the places we inhabit and move through - our homes, stations, cafes, offices and the like - will have embedded Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices. These will enable us to be provided with content, communicate, have our environments sensed and adjusted, and so on. While this is a compelling (and very useful) future vision, the energy demands it brings are enormous. Furthermore, we risk cluttering up our physical environments with a plethora of digital devices. In the 'developed' world these are problems that will affect sustainability and the quality of our built environments. In the 'developing' world, though, energy resource constraints and physical resource issues means that without innovation, billions of people will have reduced opportunities to benefit from the coming IoT revolution.

This project is about trying to capture the benefits of the IoT future while making it sustainable, delightful and universally accessible. The work involves a team of material scientists and human computer interaction researchers, working together with partners to develop a new form of physical material that can generate the power it needs to drive digital interfaces and interactions. That is, we will drive towards attractive, flat and flexible solar energy harvesting tiles (Photovoltaic - PV - tiles), which may incorporate input and output features to enable people to interact with them and other connected devices. These tiles will be able to be integrated into buildings (in walls and floors, for instance) and objects (like tables, clothes and book covers). The surfaces capture the energy from indoor and ambient light and at the same surface can present digital displays and interfaces to the user.

To illustrate the possibilities, consider the following four user-centred scenarios:

1. Tom is busy in the kitchen. A set of Interactive-PV tiles, built decoratively into the wall along the kitchen surface, activates to show a silhouette of a figure approaching the front door. Tom is waiting for a delivery, so gestures at the tiles - the delivery driver at the entrance is shown a message on the door number PV tile, asking her to leave the parcel in the porch.

2. Shashank is walking through the narrow streets of a slum in Mumbai during the monsoon rains. He approaches an awning protecting the street from torrential rain and gestures at a flexible Interactive-PV tile woven into it. The tile displays a no-entry warning sign, and he decides to change direction to avoid walking into a deep flood in the passageway ahead.

3. Sarah has created some interactive art designs for her bedroom wall. She sends them to the Interactive-PV display tiles she has had installed, and later enjoys them, especially as they show her the external weather forecast in a personalised way. She's happy that while they work like LED displays, they can operate for years without needing external power, battery changes or space-consuming standard PV cells.

4. Sofia has flexible designer Interactive-PV tiles on her dress that she uses to control a music player or smartphone with hand gestures, and to receive alerts via electro-tactile feedback. She's impressed that the interface works in a range of environments and light conditions as she moves from her house, through the underground metro system and later to a mellow lit bar.

The project ideas and the work itself as it progresses have been co-created with UK and global industry partners and a centre in India that has over 40 years of providing insights into design for resource-constrained communities.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.swan.ac.uk