The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Researchers want to build control systems for buildings from old smartphones

Swiss researchers want to control buildings with disused smartphones. The aim is to avoid having to manufacture new, CO2-intensive computer chips for control units, as Empa announced on Tuesday.

According to the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa), automated buildings can reduce the energy requirements of these properties by around 30 percent. Such building systems automatically control the room temperature of buildings, for example.

However, the ecological footprint of the hardware required for this poses a dilemma, according to Empa in the press release. "These systems are designed to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions. But if we have to manufacture new hardware for this purpose, the production and transportation of which require valuable resources and cause large amounts of CO2, then we are simply shifting some of the emissions to other sectors," said researcher Hanmin Cai, according to the press release.

The idea is still in its infancy

Cai has investigated to what extent basic control and communication tasks can be carried out with conventional smartphones, what performance they provide and which software applications are required for this. The result: it works. In his experiment, he was able to control the room temperature in a test building using the hardware of his old smartphone. Even a smartphone with a damaged screen can therefore easily perform the same tasks as a new control unit.

However, the idea is still in its infancy, Empa admitted. Important questions, such as the security of the software chain, the scalability of the application or the lifespan of such a smartphone controller, have not yet been conclusively answered. The researchers also want to quantify exactly how much CO2 they can save by using old smartphones.


Most Read

Sunday, April 7 – Round Up

7 April 2024
Switzerland may fund French nuclear projects as it grapples with internal issues in the news this Sunday morning.

Swiss Employers Association: Increase Retirement Ages

8 April 2024
Following the rejection of a pension initiative, the Swiss Employers' Association (SAV) recommends a gradual raise in retirement age to 66.

Mustafa Atici Wins: First Migrant in the Executive

8 April 2024
Mustafa Atici, a Kurdish-born entrepreneur, wins the Basel's government election, the first migrant in the executive.

Swiss Oculis Secures $59M in Funding: Iceland Listing Next

11 April 2024
Oculis finalises a $59 million investment round and sets sights on Nasdaq Iceland listing, bolstering its innovative eye care solutions.

Stay in Touch!


Barry Callebaut Beats Market Trends with Sales Increase
10 April 2024
Zug Leads Swiss Purchasing Power: GfK Study Insights
9 April 2024