skip to main content


Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Hester, Josiah"

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Batteryless, energy-harvesting systems could reshape the Internet of Things into a more sustainable societal infrastructure. 
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2025
  2. Whenever a user interacts with a device, mechanical work is performed to actuate the user interface elements; the resulting energy is typically wasted, dissipated as sound and heat. Previous work has shown that many devices can be powered entirely from this otherwise wasted user interface energy. For these devices, wires and batteries, along with the related hassles of replacement and charging, become unnecessary and onerous. So far, these works have been restricted to proof-of-concept demonstrations; a specific bespoke harvesting and sensing circuit is constructed for the application at hand. The challenge of harvesting energy while simultaneously sensing fine-grained input signals from diverse modalities makes prototyping new devices difficult. To fill this gap, we present a hardware toolkit which provides a common electrical interface for harvesting energy from user interface elements. This facilitates exploring the composability, utility, and breadth of enabled applications of interaction-powered smart devices. We design a set of energy as input harvesting circuits, a standard connective interface with 3D printed enclosures, and software libraries to enable the exploration of devices where the user action generates the energy needed to perform the device's primary function. This exploration culminated in a demonstration campaign where we prototype several exemplar popular toys and gadgets, including battery-free Bop-It--- a popular 90s rhythm game, an electronic Etch-a-sketch, a Simon-Says-style memory game, and a service rating device. We run exploratory user studies to understand how generativity, creativity, and composability are hampered or facilitated by these devices. These demonstrations, user study takeaways, and the toolkit itself provide a foundation for building interactive and user-focused gadgets whose usability is not affected by battery charge and whose service lifetime is not limited by battery wear.

     
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 8, 2024
  3. Mark Weiser predicted in 1991 that computing would lead to individuals interacting with countless computing devices, seamlessly integrating them into their daily lives until they disappear into the background. However, achieving this seamless integration while addressing the associated environmental concerns is challenging. Trillions of smart devices with varied capabilities and form-factor are needed to build a networked environment of this magnitude. Yet, conventional computing paradigms require plastic housings, PCB boards, and rare-earth minerals, coupled with hazardous waste, and challenging reclamation and recycling, leading to significant e-waste. The current linear lifecycle design of electronic devices does not allow circulation among different life stages, neglecting features like recyclability and repairability during the design process. In this position paper, we present the concept of computational materials designed for transiency as a substitute for current devices. We envision that not all devices must be designed with performance, robustness, or even longevity as the sole goal. We detail computer systems challenges to the circular economy of computational materials and provide strategies and sketches of tools to assess a device's entire lifetime environmental impact. 
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 9, 2024
  4. Task-based intermittent software systems always re-execute peripheral input/output (I/O) operations upon power failures since tasks have all-or-nothing semantics. Re-executed I/O wastes significant time and energy and risks memory inconsistency. This paper presents EaseIO, a new task-based intermittent system that remedies these problems. EaseIO programming interface introduces re-execution semantics for I/O operations to facilitate safe and efficient I/O management for intermittent applications. EaseIO compiler front-end considers the programmer-annotated I/O re-execution semantics to preserve the task's energy efficiency and idem-potency. EaseIO runtime introduces regional privatization to eliminate memory inconsistency caused by idempotence bugs. Our evaluation shows that EaseIO reduces the wasted useful I/O work by up to 3× and total execution time by up to 44% by avoiding 76% of the redundant I/O operations, as compared to the state-of-the-art approaches for intermittent computing. Moreover, for the first time, EaseIO ensures memory consistency during DMA-based I/O operations. 
    more » « less
  5. Wearables are a potentially vital mechanism for individuals to monitor their health, track behaviors, and stay connected. Unfortunately, both price and a lack of consideration of the needs of low-SES communities have made these devices inaccessible and unusable for communities that would most substantially benefit from their affordances. To address this gap and better understand how members of low-SES communities perceive the potential benefits and barriers to using wearable devices, we conducted 19 semi-structured interviews with people from minority, high crime rate, low-SES communities. Participants emphasized a critical need for safety-related wearable devices in their communities. Still, existing tools do not yet address the specific needs of this community and are out of reach due to several barriers. We distill themes on perceived useful features and ongoing obstacles to guide a much-needed research agenda we term ’Equityware’: building wearable devices based on low-SES communities’ needs, comfortability, and limitations. 
    more » « less
  6. Ko, Steve (Ed.)
    Today's smart devices have short battery lifetimes, high installation and maintenance costs, and rapid obsolescence - all leading to the explosion of electronic waste in the past two decades. These problems will worsen as the number of connected devices grows to one trillion by 2035. Energy harvesting, battery-free devices offer an alternative. Getting rid of the battery reduces e-waste, promises long lifetimes, and enables deployment in new applications and environments. Unfortunately, developing sophisticated inference-capable applications is still challenging. The lack of platform support for advanced (32-bit) microprocessors and specialized accelerators, which can execute dataintensive machine-learning tasks, has held back batteryless devices. 
    more » « less
  7. Users face various privacy risks in smart homes, yet there are limited ways for them to learn about the details of such risks, such as the data practices of smart home devices and their data flow. In this paper, we present Privacy Plumber, a system that enables a user to inspect and explore the privacy "leaks" in their home using an augmented reality tool. Privacy Plumber allows the user to learn and understand the volume of data leaving the home and how that data may affect a user's privacy -- in the same physical context as the devices in question, because we visualize the privacy leaks with augmented reality. Privacy Plumber uses ARP spoofing to gather aggregate network traffic information and presents it through an overlay on top of the device in an smartphone app. The increased transparency aims to help the user make privacy decisions and mend potential privacy leaks, such as instruct Privacy Plumber on what devices to block, on what schedule (i.e., turn off Alexa when sleeping), etc. Our initial user study with six participants demonstrates participants' increased awareness of privacy leaks in smart devices, which further contributes to their privacy decisions (e.g., which devices to block). 
    more » « less
  8. We have witnessed explosive growth in computing devices at all scales, in particular with small wireless devices that can permeate most of our physical world. The IoT industry is helping to fuel this insatiable desire for more and more data. We have to balance this growth with an understanding of its environmental impact. Indeed, the ENSsys community must take leadership in putting sustainability up front as a primary design principle for the future of IoT and related areas, expanding the research mandate beyond the intricacies of the computing systems in isolation to encompass and integrate the materials, new applications, and circular lifecycle of electronics in the IoT. Our call to action is seeded with a circularity-focused computing agenda that demands a cross-stack research program for energy-harvesting computational things. 
    more » « less
  9. The emergence of the Internet of Things and pervasive sensor networks have generated a surge of research in energy scavenging techniques. We know well that harvesting RF, solar, or kinetic energy enables the creation of battery-free devices that can be used where frequent battery changes or dedicated power lines are impractical. One unusual yet ubiquitous source of power is soil (earth itself) - or more accurately, bacterial communities in soil. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are electrochemical cells that harness the activities of microbes that naturally occur in soil, wetlands, and wastewater. MFCs have been a topic of research in environmental engineering and microbiology for decades, but are a relatively new topic in electronics design and research. Most low-power electronics have traditionally opted for batteries, RF energy, or solar cells. This is changing, however, as the limitations and costs of these energy sources hamper our ability to deploy useful systems that last for decades in challenging environments. If large-scale, long-term applications like underground infrastructure monitoring, smart farming, and sensing for conservation are to be possible, we must rethink the energy source. 
    more » « less
  10. Automating operations of objects has made life easier and more convenient for billions of people, especially those with limited motor capabilities. On the other hand, even able-bodied users might not always be able to perform manual operations (e.g., both hands are occupied), and manual operations might be undesirable for hygiene purposes (e.g., contactless devices). As a result, automation systems like motion-triggered doors, remote-control window shades, contactless toilet lids have become increasingly popular in private and public environments. Yet, these systems are hampered by complex building wiring or short battery lifetimes, negating their positive benefits for accessibility, energy saving, healthcare, and other domains. In this paper we explore how these types of objects can be powered in perpetuity by the energy generated from a unique energy source - user interactions, specifically, the manual manipulations of objects by users who can afford them when they can afford them. Our assumption is that users' capabilities for object operations are heterogeneous, there are desires for both manual and automatic operations in most environments, and that automatic operations are often not needed as frequently - for example, an automatic door in a public space is often manually opened many times before a need for automatic operation shows up. The energy harvested by those manual operations would be sufficient to power that one automatic operation. We instantiate this idea by upcycling common everyday objects with devices which have various mechanical designs powered by a general-purpose backbone embedded system. We call these devices, MiniKers. We built a custom driver circuit that can enable motor mechanisms to toggle between generating powers (i.e., manual operation) and actuating objects (i.e., automatic operation). We designed a wide variety of mechanical mechanisms to retrofit existing objects and evaluated our system with a 48-hour deployment study, which proves the efficacy of MiniKers as well as shedding light into this people-as-power approach as a feasible solution to address energy needed for smart environment automation. 
    more » « less