TRON Intelligent House Makes Its Appearance in Taiwan


"u-home," a TRON Intelligent House model home that opened in Taiwan

To the west from the overwhelmingly voluminous Taipei Railway Station with its Chinese-language Taipei Station sign. As one would expect, the summer of this southern land is hot. Even walking slowly, in five minutes facing the fire station the high-rise "Taiwan Land Development Corporation Financial Center Building" (Taik'ai Chinyung Talou) towers above. In the second basement floor of this building, "u-home," the third model of the TRON Intelligent House, and a T-Engine/Ubiquitous ID showroom have been completed.

The showroom area is approximately 200 square meters, and u-home is approximately 350 square meters (excluding the passages, office, and presentation room). The total floor space is smaller than PAPI (second version of the TRON Intelligent House), which has a parking lot and a pool, but as a residence, it's fairly spacious. It's made up into a room configuration of a living room, a dining room, a main bedroom, a guest room, a bar and audio visual room, a kitchen, a pantry, a laundry, and two bathrooms. Even in Taiwan, if a house with this roominess is in the city, it's a palatial residence, but if we mention Japan, we say it's an oku-syon [hundred million yen mansion-like home].

The ground plan of u-home

The Future within One's Reach

u-home's construction design, interior, and function design are, of course, "designed by Ken Sakamura." The design tone conforms to wording of Japanese modern, which is natural materials, simple, and spacious from the traditional intelligent house, but in such things as using dark red in the curtains, the Taiwan local color has been taken into consideration. On this occasion, because we designed almost all of the movable furniture, such as the sofa chairs, and tables, on our own and manufactured them in a Taiwanese workshop, they fit in the respective rooms and feel good to use. Even the antique furniture placed in the entrance hall and living and dining rooms are Chinese and Tibetan antiques that have been taken out after searching around Taiwanese furniture shops, and their greater poignancy harmonizes nicely inside the modern rooms.

Living room

The aim of u-home is a residence in which pleasantness and ecology have been pursued by freely using the latest ubiquitous computing technologies. In other words, u-home, becomes a residence that automatically controls things so as to raise to the maximum the pleasantness and the ecology by sensing the state of the home and the states of the people. Energy saving is also included in ecology, and, depending on the circumstances, there are even instances where pleasantness and ecology will conflict with each other, but that is something that one can try to nicely adjust.

u-home serves as a model home for the large Taiwanese developer Taiwan Land Development Corporation, which has made as its objective going on to apply and expand this concept design and these technologies in such things as large-scale apartments in the future. Intelligent residences beginning with the TRON intelligent houses have been built with the image of futuristic homes, but the age of ubiquitous computing has arrived, and it has now become something of a future within one's reach.

Concern for the Environment and the Latest Technology

When one proceeds through the entrance, where both sides are enclosed with the green of plants, and the automatic doors of the entrance hall open up, the surface directly ahead is made up into a wall of greenery. This is a wall garden system called "midorie," which Suntory Holdings Ltd. has developed. This is made up in a manner that plants planted in small flowerpot-size pods are inlaid on a wall in a vertical-horizontal mesh, and where nutrients and water are automatically supplied via computer control. Generally, it's a system utilized in commercial facilities, but here it's something in which we have tested out its application to a residence. Outside of the entrance hall, "midorie" has been laid out also on the walls of the main bedroom and the guest room. Green is both the symbol of ecology, and one of the concepts of u-home. Also, the photo art works that adorn the walls here and there in u-home are ones that have as their theme the flowers of photographer Michiko Sato, and thus harmony with the green and a brilliance can be felt.

Master bedroom
In u-home, markers that emit ucodes that indicate places, and sensors that detect people have been deployed in all sorts of places. When a sensor detects a person, the lighting automatically turns on, and when the person disappears, the wasteful lighting is actively turned off. Depending on the time and the outdoor brightness, even such things as linking together the brightness of the lighting and the curtains are carried out (virtually, because the model home is underground). If background music and background video have been set, those also are operated together.

Ubiquitous Communicator

In a case where we would like to control things on our own, we use the Ubiquitous Communicator (UC). The UC recognizes the place ucode, and then it becomes a remote control for the room we are presently in. Touch panel switches have also been arranged on the walls, and they can carry out control in that room in the same manner as the UC. The touch panel switches are made up so that they are usually not displayed, but when you get close, the control screen suddenly appears.

On the top screen, information such as the date, time, current weather, temperature, and weather forecast, plus the current state of the house on a ground plan of the house are displayed. Here, information such as whether or not the lighting is switched on, what rooms people are in, and the arrival of visitors and freight are displayed with icons.

Also, in the lower right, the current amount of energy consumption is shown with an easy-to-understand graph and numerical values.

By always showing how much energy is being consumed, in other words, by "making data appear," from psychological work, one gets connected to energy saving as a result. Temperature and illumination sensors are built into the touch panels, and they do environmental monitoring. Using the information that has been sensed, the user goes on to carry out optimal control for the current circumstances.

Control of such things as information from human detecting sensors, lighting, electrically operated curtains, entrance hall electric locks, background music, and audio visual equipment are carried out by means of local controllers based on µT-Engine appliances. Also, visitor information and information concerning energy and the overall house are collected together on a house server; these display the status for house monitoring, and they are utilized for overall control parameters.

System configuration diagram
As for u-home gadgets, when you stand at the sink in the master bedroom, an information display appears in the manner of an electric bulletin board on the large mirror. This is something that tells the weather forecast for each region, real-time news, family messages, and today's schedule. The weather forecasts and the news, being automatically extracted from Internet sites, are real-time information. Because u-home is a model home, the family messages and schedules have been created as simulations, but in a case where u-home is developed into an actual residence, Taiwan Land Development Corporation will provide this as a service, synchronizing together such things as the users' cell-phones, personal computers, and PDAs.

Home delivery box

At the back door of u-home, a home delivery box has been installed. Even if one isn't home, it can receive home delivery parcels, and put out things to be dry cleaned. It is made up as a two-level, upper and lower, box, and it can simultaneously handle two packages. After contracting with a reliable home delivery service and dry cleaning firm, an eTRON card is handed over to the delivery person. The eTRON card is the key for the home delivery box, and, moreover, it constitutes an electronic billing system. The merchant inserts the eTRON card in the slot, and if the receiver's address and so on are not mistaken, the lock opens. When a delivery person opens the box door, delivers or receives a package(s), and then closes the door, information in lieu of one's signature for receipt is written onto the eTRON card. Even if one is at home, when one can't let go of what one's doing, you can receive parcels, even if you cannot respond to them one by one. If a parcel is delivered, a display appears on the UC and the wall touch panel, and thus you can know that a parcel has arrived. In a case where you have gone out from u-home, a service that mails your cell-phone is also possible.

The home delivery box is also a part of security; in u-home, security has also been given sufficient consideration. For the entrance hall door, we have utilized an RFID key that makes it impossible to counterfeit, and even if you lose it, it can immediately be made useless if you make its registration invalid. Also, when you hand one over to a visitor, you can make a key that is valid only for a particular day and time.

Security cameras have been installed inside and outside u-home, and even when you have emptied the house, you can check images from the outside. Also, by means of a sensing function, you can automatically record the movements of suspicious persons, and thus can play a role in crime prevention. The intercom also automatically records visitors when you are not at home with the same scheme, and you can check these after returning home.

In order to make it possible for the residents to live safely and pleasantly, the outer walls employ Panasonic Electric Works Co., Ltd.'s photocatalytic outer wall material. This is a maintenance free outer wall that decomposes dirt by means of sunlight, after which the dirt easily falls off with rain water. For the interior paint, we have used a paint called takesumi charcoal lacquer in which bamboo charcoal is mixed; it has toxic substance absorbing and moisture absorbing effects.

Audio visual room

The master bedroom's bathroom is fully equipped with a large bathtub, a multi-functional shower, a sauna, and a cold bath; and background music also is piped in. It is a design that attaches great importance to relieving fatigue and refreshing the residents. The audio visual room equipped with a large screen is fundamentally the same as PAPI. The newly designed thick sofa begs attention. When you entrust your body to a sofa designed for the purpose sinking into a movie, it seems like you are being lured into a dream as is from the world of the screen. A real bar has been built in the audio visual room. When you place the UC on the counter, it does things like outputting cocktail recipes. This is charming space in which one can enjoy a cocktail together with splendid music and background video.


On Wednesday, August 12, 2009, a press announcement was held for press-related persons, and a large number of articles appeared in Taiwan's newspapers and media. One floor above, on the first basement floor, a new shop and culture center are under construction; u-home and the T-Engine/Ubiquitous ID Show Room are scheduled to be opened to the general public together with the opening of that floor.

Video Presentation (3:54 minutes; in English)

The above article on Taiwan Land Development Corporation's u-home appeared on pages 50-53 in Vol. 119 of TRONWARE. It was translated and loaded onto this Web page with the permission of Personal Media Corporation.

Copyright © 2009 Personal Media Corporation

Copyright © 2009 Sakamura Laboratory, University Museum, University of Tokyo