A recent IBM patent points what might the next big thing in home automation and security-- systems turning floors into "smart" multitouch surfaces.
Titled "securing premises using surface-based computing technology," patent no. 8138882 describes a system able to determine who is in the house and what they are doing via database of registered identities (recording weight, shape and number of feet).
Should an unauthorised person stand on the floor, the system sounds off alarms or call the authorities-- just like traditional security systems. It can also let the home owner know where family members are, issuing alerts in case children or pets go in off-limit areas or switching on lights when registered residents are home.
The IBM system also has great potential for home health applications-- sensing accidents (such as falls) and sending out appropriate alerts.
An other use the patent suggests is keeping tabs on what teens are doing when parents are away, by sensing "unregistered objects" like banned boyfriends...
One question, however, remains-- is IBM planning to do anything with the patent? According to MSNBC, the company says "The newly-patented invention is not part of a product or solution and we can't speculate about if or how it will be implemented."
Go Multitouch Floor May Someday Detect Your Heart Attack (MSNBC)