Hitting the Books: AI can help us design the greener, cleaner homes of tomorrow

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In his new book, SuperSight: What Augmented Reality Means for Our Lives, Our Work, and the Way We Imagine the Future, author David Rose delves into the current cutting edge of augmented reality, with technology already innumerable industries. We are discussing how we are transforming. — From food services to medical care, education, construction, architecture — and what it has the potential to achieve in the near future. In the excerpt below, Rose looks at two companies that leverage computer vision and generative hostile networks to rethink existing properties as 21st century electrified smart homes.

Ben Bella Books

Excerpt with permission from SuperSight: What Augmented Reality means for our lives, our jobs, and the way we imagine the future Written by David Rose, published by Ben Bella Books.

We should all use solar panels. Limit. The average cost of a sustainable energy system has decreased by about 70% over the last decade from $ 5.86 / watt to $ 1.50 / watt. Therefore, this is economically easy. You can fund your installation and start saving $ 100 a month in the first month without spending any money. You can also save even more if you live in the sunny southern part.

So why aren’t we? it’s complicated! Mathematics, logistics, taxes and aesthetics all play a role.Many homeowners are afraid that it will make their home shiny and reflective like a tin woodman. Wizard of Oz.. In the process of figuring out how many panels you need, you need to learn to “speak the sun” in unfamiliar units such as kilowatt hours. And change, whether real or simply perceived, is always risky.

The Boston-based company Energy Sage’s mission to respond to climate change is to make people electrify their homes. That means roof solar panels, electric cars, home battery systems, automatic blinds, and smart thermostats that precool or preheat when you get home. And to partner with us at Continuum to make potential customers more comfortable with their ideas by showing them what an electrified version of their home will look like. We use published Google Home satellite imagery to size the solar panels, digitally overlay them on the client’s roof, and then show what the pads look like from both the street and the fence of our neighbors. Then take these images and combine them with data from Project Sunroof, a Google project that helps you calculate the potential for solar savings on your roof. Once you have a beautiful picture of an electrified house, understand how much you can save over the years, and have visual and financial data, it’s easy to move on and make that change. It’s a decision.

Other home renovation projects will benefit from the approach envisioned by a similar SuperSight. Think about landscaping. It’s another complex and potentially expensive project with a uniquely disoriented language, risk, and an urgent need for pre-project visualization.

I met landscape designer Julie Moia Mesabie at the MIT Pitch Contest and was immediately intrigued by her mission. It’s about giving homeowners the confidence and tools they need to turn a barren garden into a collection of outdoor living spaces. Her company, Home Outside, uses AI and computer vision to help people understand the new possibilities of the backyard. When they visualize the garden in a compelling way, the company can easily realize that vision by hiring landscape installers, delivering materials, and even distributing payments over time. increase.

Landscaping is not only suitable for property values. greenscapes filter the air pollutants that cause asthma, helping people recover faster from illness, lower summer temperatures, and reduce crime. Proper native landscaping helps bees and birds and enhances the dynamic system of pollinating trees and plants. Shade trees in the southwest can reduce the need for air conditioning, and hedges in the northeast reduce winter winds and heating costs. More trees literally inhale the bad things we produce from the air, while reducing spills and erosion, which means more carbon capture (1 ton over the life of each tree).

But “most people don’t know where to start, so they don’t do anything in their yard,” Julie told me. “They don’t know which plants to choose and how to arrange them, or they don’t even know how to install landscape design and take care of it over time.” I have this problem. I was so inspired to work on her that I accepted her board position and started working.

HomeOutside is a generative hostile network (GAN) to automatically create beautiful and sustainable landscape designs based on thousands of designs (think recipes) developed for clients over the last 20 years or more. ) Is training. The company uses Google Earth Engine and photogrammetry to start with a 3D view of any address (currently in the US only). The GAN architecture then uses one network (generator) to create a new design and another network (discriminator) to judge or score work. Discriminators have determined that these two networks have a good landscape composition, including shade trees, natural pollen maters, grass to play, hardscapes / decks and furniture to gather places, and plant diversity. Continue the game iteratively until you do, and generate scoring.

Companies selling plants, furniture, lighting and hardscapes are clearly interested in this type of “imagination engine” technology. This is a real dream for more people to fill the conceptual gap between the current state of someone’s garden and what is possible. Not only great for homeowners and outdoor retailers, but also great for the environment. But what the company’s environmentally-focused investors find most appealing about this project is the opportunity to make major changes to the landscape of the entire neighborhood. What if we could create a new national park that spans millions of backyards that connect places for birds and bees? One acre of forest absorbs about 2.5 tonnes of carbon annually. What if you turn your neighborhood into an important carbon sequestration zone?

I help Julie and her team make a grand plan for Home Outside to actively redesign the 70 million front yard, then work with Home Depot, Lowe, Wayfair, IKEA, and the Garden Center to serve customers. I emailed a 3D redesign of the garden to. Customers go out of the house, open their phones, and use the spatial world anchors in the app to walk through the immersive animated landscape overlaid in the current garden. The time-lapse view from sunrise to sunset shows why the edible garden is located there. Winter visualizations explain the selection of new fir trees between their garden and their neighbor’s garden. Spring flowers bloom with a dissonant color.

Will people be amazed at the idea of ​​an algorithm that actively redesigns the garden with new shade trees and naturally pollinating shrubs? Thanks to Google Street View, the front yard is no longer private. Also, if you’re selling a home, you might oppose hiring a landscaper and choose to post an image-changed version of Home Outside instead of maximizing the appeal of the curb.

As this vision technology becomes commonplace, many different disciplines will begin to take advantage of it. For example, Home Depot recently invested in a startup called Hover. The startup will digitize the house in 3D and then visualize and price new paints, siding and roofing materials. SuperSight will soon display the actual paint crew on the ladder and finish the last few brushstrokes, so you can have a fun experience of the work you just finished. Volkswagen may put a new passat on your driveway, it is equipped with kayaks and mountain bikes that you know you love at the top. And is the company trying to sell you home and car insurance? They predict disaster scenarios: solar panels have fallen, shaded trees have been struck by lightning, and your new passat has been struck by a hail storm. It is advisable to purchase insurance before repainting.

How do you interact with these types of immersive designs? With the SuperSight glasses turned on, do you want to point to the tree and place it, or do you want to paint the flowers from the palette of your choice, as in the 3D version of Photoshop? Choose each plant from a vast menu of options for endless control and customization, or tell the system your preferences, learn your preferences, and then suggest a single solution that we like. mosquito? I believe in a happy medium. Just like when working with an architect, interior designer, or wedding planner, it’s a good idea to look at some “professional structured” options and choose between them.

Experts are usually very good at what they do, so it is often a mistake to overspecify certain details. For example, don’t tell the architect that you want the windows to be placed exactly here, and that you want the interior designer to place this particular chair in this corner in a particular color. Instead, explain a higher level of abstraction (“I want the room to feel connected to the environment”) or the required function (“I want a vegetable garden”), express my opinion, and do the detailed work. Let me.

Interaction models by the same expert dominate the relationship with SuperSight AI. For landscaping, you may want a more formal French garden with a linear layout and exotic colorful vegetation, or a curvy organic design that prioritizes privacy from your neighbors. We may show a preference for a filled scheme with open space for play, or more space for a productive garden. And with these higher levels of interest expressed, the 3D landscape design is dynamically recalculated to your liking. With SuperSight glasses turned on, you can test your haunch faster by overlaying it on a real home and instantly seeing the reconstruction in context.

Jury trials are still considering whether HomeOutside can use this technology to convince millions of homeowners to invest heavily in sustainable landscapes. However, the test is promising. Customers are pleased to see the yard reconsidered and restaged. Over the next five years, HomeOutside will use Google Earth and Street View images with its generated AI tools to automate tens of millions of landscapes, including sustainable plants, shade trees, natural hay fever, and bird-friendly berries. Will be redesigned. If successful, it means that one million homeowners will plant at least 3 million new shade trees like oak and beech, each capturing 48 pounds of carbon annually as they mature. This is 14 billion tonnes of carbon isolated over the life of these trees.

One of HomeOutside’s advisors summarizes: “You’re building the equivalent of a new national park, our national park. Visualization tools like HomeOutside can convince homeowners to reshape the American landscape. increase.”

That is the ultimate potential of SuperSight. It is to help people imagine and imagine a future that will benefit themselves and the planet.

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