Cal student makes “ridiculously automated dorm”

UC Berkeley student Derek Low is nothing if not inventive. A few months ago Low set out to make his Berkeley dorm room as fully automated as possible. The result, as you can see in the video he uploaded to YouTube yesterday, is BRAD: the Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm.

Through remote controlled lighting and curtains, Low’s room manages to wake him up, put him to sleep and provide the right ambiance for homework and even romance. Its “party mode” is particularly impressive.

Low’s tech career started early. Six years ago, the self-described computer fanatic launched an online science and technology playground with his friend Shaun in the UK. Called Laboratory Home (the “product of an overly impulsive teenager”), it documents the pair’s homespun experiments, which run the gamut from pyrotechnics through lasers and chemistry. We’re hoping that his recipe for ballistic gel doesn’t actually produce the real thing.

In addition to being a talented engineer, it appears Low, who grew up in Singapore, is also supremely well traveled. On his tongue-in-cheek website Where’s Derek? (as in “Where’s Waldo?) he pops up in Shanghai, most of Europe and Thailand, among others. His latest recorded count is 211 cities in 33 countries.

Attempts to contact Low have so far proved unsuccessful — but then we’re not really surprised: this is one busy guy.

We know of course that UC Berkeley students are a cut above, but Low is a hard act to follow.

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  • Lazy and entitled.  This is what the next generation has to offer? I welcome our extinction.

  • Dislike

  • Bruce Love

     It does seem more like shopping than hacking.   Not to say it isn’t witty — it is.

  • EricPanzer

    Joyless and sanctimonious. Is that all your comment has to offer?

    Not sure if you’re troll or troglodyte, but jeeze louise, lighten up! This kid uses his free time to create a novel and fun application of what are actually incredibly useful technologies, and you turn your nose up at him.

    This sort of smart-home technology has all manner of practical applications–windows or blinds that open and shut themselves to control climate, appliances that turn themselves off to save energy while not in use, security lights that come on at certain times or when it gets dark. In fact, people have been using timers for years to have lights come on when they aren’t at home or are on vacation–are these folks “lazy and entitled?”

    By your logic, we shouldn’t have microwaves, washing machines, or industrial manufacturing, because only lazy and entitled people let a machine cook their food, wash their clothes, or make their stuff. Get over yourself, or at least find someone less enterprising and creative to criticize.

  • Orchog

    Jesus H Christ, it’s not like he’s driving a Ferrari. This is a 20 year old student having fun with some  lights and cheap robotic gear  he bought Fry’s Electronics. Go back under you bridge you troll!

  • Fred Fnord

    > We’re hoping that his recipe for ballistic gel doesn’t actually produce the real thing.

    Uhh… why?

    Or do you simply have absolutely no idea what ballistic gel is?

  • Bruce Love

     “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

  • incorporateLJnow

    Hate to rain on your hater’s parade but this is actually the antithesis of lazy and entitled.   In fact, Wikipedia notes that home automation has been around since at least 1966 so it appears to be an offering from the last generation (perhaps yours).  As the author of this article stated Cal students are a cut above (and we crank out some pretty decent engineers).  Quick James get back under your bridge because since it is May Day it may get OCCUPIED.  Good on ya Derek!

  • Bruce Love

    Joyless and sanctimonious.

    Yes, you are.  We poke young would-be hackers because that’s part of how we make good hackers.  Relax.

    Here’s an earlier cover of the tune this guy is covering (thanks reddit!):

    Right down to the big red button and the fog machine.

    A lot of this stuff was easier back in yonder pre-internet days when you could do loving copies of earlier work done elsewhere without having to up-front admit that that was your game.

    And it was also harder because you’d have to build or scrounge more of your controllers and actuators rather than just ordering them on-line.

  • the dude

     … That 17 yr old in Marin is the one with the Ferrari, stolen though … This one has been to 33 countries, which probably cost about as much as a Ferrari…

  • The Sharkey

    Taking a remark intended to be humorous seriously.

    Minus three Internet Cool Guy points.

  •  Can we get a downvote button PLEASE?

  • incorporateLJnow

    FAIL.  That would be a Lamborghini but what’s the diff, eh?  It also seems like you may be a bit challenged differentiating between a very intelligent engineering student at Cal versus a minor that seems to have a short fuse and a penchant for violence since he did try to gun down a guy that was with a girl that he liked (and was in the car at the time he shot into it).  He was in an independent study program which is usually a euphemism for continuation school.  Plus he was caught with a loaded gun when police arrested him.  They are probably trying to figure out how to try him as an adult as this is being written.  But of course you were not comparing the one in Marin and “this one that has been to 33 countries”, you were contrasting.

  • Anonymous

    Once again you have no idea what you are talking about “Bruce”.  Seriously, do you have anything constructive or positive to offer the world?  Surely you must be able to do *something* other than trolling on Berkeleyside? If I thought you were just another maladjusted 20 year old I’d ignore you but I’m fairly sure you’re a middle aged man that really should have something better to do.

  • jtothectothel

    Author needs to look up “ballistic gel”.  It’s not a weapon or something.  

  • The Sharkey

    “Ballistic gel” is the scientific term for Flubber.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Cute, but hardly ridiculous. It’s a couple of notches above “the clapper.”. Still, it’s a fun hack and I bet he learned a bunch from doing it. Maybe a screening of Iron Man would provide some more inspiration. :-)

  • Ellen Freytag

    This video could be really great and still demonstrate all BRAD’s capabilities edited down to about a 4th of its current length.

  • Berkeleyfarm

    Way to go, Derek!  Party mode is especially hilarious.

    I would probably get annoyed with the window-opener if I were an immediate neighbor but … nice hack, dude. 

  • originalone

    I’m over 73 years old, a Berkeley native, love the comments, at least the ones that make perfectly rational sense. And just what is wrong for any young person personalizing his/her private space? Could it be envy? Oh gosh!

  • Nope

     Did you actually read his comment?

  • Greg

    It is an unfair assumption to make that ‘Anonymous’ responded without actually reading the comment.  

    It is much more generous to assume ‘Anonymous’ just didn’t understand the comment.

  • Guest

    all I thought was that this was neat. So he could have a little more free time. I want some of those things.

  • Voxhumana

    Honeywell already makes many of the features in BRAD’s room and has been incorporated into many homes. I always wanted a system that could open and close the window coverings, depending on time of day and weather. I’d get a little annoyed at the motor noise however. Maybe a better quality motor? Hey, many of these features are futuristic green, turning on and off lights, making things more energy aware and efficient. People need to open up. With window coverings coated in solar collection units (shoji panels) it could power the whole room and more. 

  • serkes

    In a meeting learning Worpress & Gmail hacks, so have the sound turned down.
    But that’s not kept me from having a big smile on my face as I’m watching the video.Way to go, Derek!  Hack on (using the good meaning of hacker)Ira

  • Guest

    Don’t be jealous you’re not smart enough to do something like this. Yes, making things automated so you can spend your time doing more fruitful things is lazy. Some people will just never understand what propels the world forward..

  • Love this mode use, although would like more details on this. Thanks for the entertainment. Good stuff Mr Low! 

  • Jhuniuo

    ballistic gel is the material used by riots police to fire at rioters. it is still dangerous albeit less so than the real bullets.