GENERATION: Self Powered IoT for People and Planet

Lead Research Organisation: Swansea University
Department Name: College of Engineering


Interconnected technologies, sometimes referred to as the internet-of-things (IoT) are now ubiquitous in society. The energy consumption of such devices is predicted to be over 1100 TWh yr-1 by 2025 and it has been recognised that smart solutions, such as energy harvesting, need to be developed, to make the operation of such devices more sustainable. Light, having the highest power density of any ambient energy source, can be exploited using photovoltaics, designed with specialist materials to extract as much energy as possible from ambient light sources. The rate of adoption of IoT technologies has been extraordinarily rapid. This favours affluent early adopters of such technologies but could leave certain marginalised and excluded groups (e.g. older persons and those in poverty) behind.

GENERATION will assemble a multidisciplinary team of Materials Chemists, Electronic Engineers, Human Computer Interaction experts and Social Scientists, to design, build, and evaluate; sustainable, self-powered interactive technologies, specifically with older persons in mind, so that they are not excluded from the digital future, and not lost in the digital divide. The work will challenge the multidisciplinary team in new ways. Materials Scientists and Engineers rarely have the opportunity to consider first-hand, the social consequences of the technologies they develop, or how those technologies could benefit a marginalised population. Social Scientists and Human Computer Interaction experts will have the opportunity to design and evaluate, the most cutting edge of self-powered IoT technologies. The technologies will be developed via a series of community co-design workshops run with a diverse cohort of older people. The devices will be built by our team of engineers and scientists and will be evaluated in the Swansea University AWEN Institute Living Laboratory, a space dedicated to co-producing products, services and environments for an increasing older population, as well as in SPECIFIC-IKC's "buildings as power stations", buildings which generate and store their own energy. In addition to the inclusive, self-powered, digital technologies developed, our findings from the community co-design and evaluation workshops will be summarised in a report made freely available to third sector organisations and governmental and non-governmental bodies to inform and make recommendations on reducing the digital divide for an ageing population.


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