Research Paper: Non-Intrusive Monitoring

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Non-intrusive monitoring, developed by George Hart, Ed Kern and Fred Schweppe in the 1980s at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is commonly used in terms of non-intrusive load monitoring, a means of monitoring an electrical circuit which encompasses a particular number of appliances which are all able to turn on and off independent of one another. Instead of attaching a monitor to all of these appliances, non-intrusive monitoring uses electric meters to determine the different uses of power in a given home. Similarly, nonintrusive appliance load monitoring, engages via "a sophisticated analysis of the current and voltage waveforms of the total load, the NALM estimates the number and nature of the individual loads, their individual energy consumption, and other relevant statistics such as time-of-day variations" (Hart). Non-intrusive monitoring can be so ideal, because it can measure the voltage and current without having access to individual components or appliances of a house or other entity that's under assessment. In the example of a home, the final data can be extremely useful to public policy makers, energy auditors, consumers, appliance manufacturers, and can provide an accurate snapshot of energy consumed over time (Hart). This can highlight any deficiencies, irregularities, or issues within energy consumption.

Essentially, within non-intrusive load monitoring, these power meter readings offer a clear identification of the loads created by specific appliances, generating a realistic way to verify load sheds in homes and buildings (Bergman et al., 2011). Again, the clearest example of this is within home, during perhaps a two hour period. Between these two hours, the activity might demonstrate energy just from the heater and refrigerator: the refrigerator turns on and off three times, the heater -- twice those amounts (Hart). This process can easily illuminate the total energy used of these appliances and their individual expenditures: "By also considering measurements of the total reactive power or harmonic current, along with the real power shown, changes in the resulting vector function of time would reveal even more information about the particular appliances" (Hart).

The key thing to remember about non-intrusive monitoring is that one uses the information available from normal operation of an item, placing no extra requirement on the system (Thornton & Sanghera, 2011). This type of monitoring can be done with all types of energy, even the energy of sound -- this is where acoustic and vibration non-intrusive monitoring comes in. This type of monitoring can find or pinpoint acoustic signals or vibrations that are caused by the movement of material. "This movement causes impacts and frictional contact with a containing face, for example the inside of a pipe. The sensor is fastened to the outside of the structure, and its high frequency detection picks up these signals, which are often undetectable to the human ear" (pulsar-pm.com). This type of detection relies on tools which can be used in environments where there is a tremendous amount of machinery noise or the noise of procedures and developments because they work using advanced technology which allows them to find changes or disruptions in acoustic emissions from equipments or machinery as they're functions (pulsar-pm.com). This is again, one of the key aspects of non-intrusive monitoring: materials and processes are examined when they're engaged in their normal work and normal functioning. With the type of non-intrusive monitoring that harnesses vibrations and acoustics, a sensor helps to examine the acoustic discharges from machinery during work: these sensors are sensitive to the smallest changes in conditions. This type of monitoring is used in industrial scenarios like mills and plants, to work with automobiles and trucks to determine engine efficiency, or even in the field of medicine to determine the success of joint and limb replacements or therapies. The possibilities with this type of technologies are really boundless.

Different Types of Non-Intrusive Monitoring

Some of the different types of non-intrusive monitoring have already been alluded to. Non-intrusive appliance monitoring has already been described, and it benefits have already been touched on. This type of appliance monitoring gives energy auditors, homeowners, building-owners, manufacturers and other interested parties a clear picture of the combined energy that their appliances use as well as each separate one. It's a way of measuring energy output that gives one a more detailed picture of which electrical energies are contributing to the biggest or smallest consumption.

One of the major and most apparent disadvantages with this type of monitoring is that there are very real and immediate privacy concerns to the individual. These concerns come up most immediately when the energy of a house or other residential structure is being looked at. Fundamentally, the way that individuals or families use energy demonstrates patterns of behavior. Patterns of behavior are directly related to privacy rights: individuals have a right to keep things like what they're doing at home, when they're home, when they're showering or other embarrassing or even criminal activities private. The concern comes when individuals don't even know that their energy use is being monitored as well. It's definitely an issue of balance, as this type of monitoring provides valuable information to society at large, yet no one wants to sacrifice the rights or needs of the individual.

Another type of non-invasive monitoring is the biological type. This is seen in thing like non-invasive blood glucose monitors for diabetics, sensors to detect drunk drivers and other tools which focus on biological functioning. For example, for glucose blood level monitoring, uses a sensor that sits closely against the skin: "a special camera, called a raman spectrometer, inside the sensor uses light to identify and analyze glucose molecules under the skin, via interstitial fluid. Each glucose molecule has a special "signature" the sensor identifies, and from there, analyzes and extrapolates a glucose value, which is transmitted via Bluetooth to a handheld device, like an iPhone or Android, or to a computer" (Allison, 2011). A ramen spectrometer is a type of device which also measures the vibrations in a system, demonstrating how this type of tool is a form of biological non-intrusive monitoring, and a vibrational one. The sheer advantage of this form of technology is that it has tremendously smart technology and human advantage: by having results download to a phone, the user's parents or even the paramedics can be called immediately if one's glucose is at a dangerous level. This demonstrates how sensors are making life for people with chronic illnesses safer and more livable. The beauty of the non-intrusive monitoring is apparent: the diabetic no longer has to prick their skin to monitor their levels of glucose, making their quality of life even higher.

The same is true for non-intrusive biological sensors which can monitor the level of intoxication of an individual driving a car. While this technology might still be developing, the possibilities are truly endless. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, one in three people will be involved in an alcohol related crash in their lifetime and almost every 90 seconds an individual is killed in a drunk-driving accident: "In 2011, 9,878 people died in drunk driving crashes - one every 53 minutes" (Madd.org, 2012). Biological sensors could have tremendous impact on eliminating or even greatly reducing the numbers of these accidents. Again, while these systems and sensors are still developing, they are designed to assess the "biological condition of a driver and issuing warnings during instances of drowsiness have recently been studied. Moreover, many researchers have reported that biological signals, such as brain waves, pulsation waves, and heart rate, are different between people who have and have not consumed alcohol. Currently, we are developing a noninvasive system to detect individuals driving under the influence of alcohol by measuring biological signals" (Murata et al., 2011). The advantages of such technology being a permanents feature in all automobiles is absolutely inspiring for human safety and for the good of society as whole. Of course, some people would argue that it reduces things like personal freedom: some people want the freedom to drive home tipsy, as the fact remains.

Already discussed were the possibilities of acoustic and vibrational forms of non-invasive monitoring which measure these forms of emissions from machines and entities in order to make assessments about their functioning. The possibilities for these types of instruments truly offer society and members of society a definitive advantage. An obvious advantage of this form of technology is the work and good that it can achieve for the environment. For example, passive, non-intrusive acoustic monitoring can observe the scallop valve movement of bivalve mollusks (Di Iorio et al., 2012). While this might not sound significant, bivalve mollusks are absolutely vital ecological and economic parts of coastal ecosystems: "The formation and size of growth increments delimited by striae are affected by environmental stressors. The mechanisms linking shell growth and striae deposition in relation to environmental variations are poorly understood but are likely associated with the animal's valve-movement behavior" (Di Iorio et all., 2012). Non-invasive acoustic monitoring can shed some light on this issue, illuminating confusions and mysteries about the development and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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