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Proceedings Paper

The Android smartphone as an inexpensive sentry ground sensor
Author(s): Riqui Schwamm; Neil C. Rowe
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Paper Abstract

A key challenge of sentry and monitoring duties is detection of approaching people in areas of little human traffic. We are exploring smartphones as easily available, easily portable, and less expensive alternatives to traditional military sensors for this task, where the sensors are already integrated into the package. We developed an application program for the Android smartphone that uses its sensors to detect people passing nearby; it takes their pictures for subsequent transmission to a central monitoring station. We experimented with the microphone, light sensor, vibration sensor, proximity sensor, orientation sensor, and magnetic sensor of the Android. We got best results with the microphone (looking for footsteps) and light sensor (looking for abrupt changes in light), and sometimes good results with the vibration sensor. We ran a variety of tests with subjects walking at various distances from the phone under different environmental conditions to measure limits on acceptable detection. We got best results by combining average loudness over a 200 millisecond period with a brightness threshold adjusted to the background brightness, and we set our phones to trigger pictures no more than twice a second. Subjects needed to be within ten feet of the phone for reliable triggering, and some surfaces gave poorer results. We primarily tested using the Motorola Atrix 4G (Android 2.3.4) and HTC Evo 4G (Android 2.3.3) and found only a few differences in performance running the same program, which we attribute to differences in the hardware. We also tested two older Android phones that had problems with crashing when running our program. Our results provide good guidance for when and where to use this approach to inexpensive sensing.

Paper Details

Date Published: 24 May 2012
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 8388, Unattended Ground, Sea, and Air Sensor Technologies and Applications XIV, 83880O (24 May 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.918876
Show Author Affiliations
Riqui Schwamm, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School (United States)
Neil C. Rowe, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8388:
Unattended Ground, Sea, and Air Sensor Technologies and Applications XIV
Edward M. Carapezza, Editor(s)

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