Northwestern Events Calendar


EECS Seminar Speaker: Prof. Jay Taneja, Assistant Professor of ECE at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, "Fancy That: Measuring Electricity Grid Voltage Using a Phone & a Fan"

Prof. Jay Taneja

When: Wednesday, April 11, 2018
10:00 AM - 11:00 PM  

Where: Technological Institute, Room L440, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Lana Kiperman  

Group: Electrical Engineering & Computer Science

Category: Lectures & Meetings


The EECS Department welcomes Prof. Jay Taneja, Assistant Professor of ECE at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Taneja will present a talk entitled "Fancy That: Measuring Electricity Grid Voltage Using a Phone & a Fan" on Wednesday, April 11 at 10:00 AM in Tech Room L440.

Abstract: Improvements in technology in electricity generation, sensors, and communication technologies coupled with redoubled efforts from governments, donors, private companies, and NGOs have led to enormous gains in electricity access. However, the reliability and quality of this electricity is not consistent among those connected; away from cities, power quality still bedevils those with electricity connections. In particular, power quality in these settings is a poorly-studied problem because the instruments to collect better data and expose the problem are simply not cheap or widespread enough to be deployed in these "weak grid" environments. As a result of poor power quality, consumers suffer substantial losses in ruined appliances and sustain unrealized improvements in income and quality-of-life. While it is possible to build more durable appliances to serve "weak grid" consumers, part of this challenge stems from an inability to monitor the nature of power quality at scale.

In this talk, I will describe the design, development, and characterization of a system to measure the voltage of electricity grid that uses only a commodity smartphone and a consumer fan. This system represents the first known example of a system for measuring power quality of an electricity grid without specialized equipment, and can enable those with electricity access who live in "weak grid" environments to determine the instantaneous power quality of their electricity system, especially whether it is safe to plug in appliances. Our work leverages the microphone of the phone to measure the disturbance created on a pure sinusoidal tone into a fan in operation. The distance between adjacent harmonics in this disturbance is a direct proxy for the electricity grid voltage. We build a system to exploit this phenomenon and show that it is robust to a variety of fan types, phone types, and background audio environments, consistently producing voltage estimations within +/- 2%.

Bio: Jay Taneja is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He develops and studies applications of sensing and communications technology on the measurement and control of infrastructure systems in the developing and developed world. Prior to joining UMass, he was a Research Scientist leading the Energy team at the IBM Research - Africa lab in Nairobi, Kenya, from 2013 to 2016. There, he focused on developing technology to improve electricity reliability and access in sub-Saharan Africa, collaborating with utilities and other energy service companies. He earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in Computer Science at the University of California - Berkeley, where for his dissertation work, he built and studied supply-following electricity loads that change electricity consumption to match fluctuations of increasingly renewable electricity supplies. He earned his B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering at The Ohio State University.

Hosted by EECS Prof. Ermin Wei

Add to Calendar

Add Event To My Group:

Please sign-in