Coming soon: The "smart floor"?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently granted a patent to IBM for a security system that would turn a floor into a multitouch surface that recognizes who’s standing on it. The floor senses different shapes and weights, so it would know the difference between adults, children and pets by weight and shape and number of feet on the floor. It has a database of registered identities to which it could match the shapes and weights it detects. Once it senses an unauthorized person standing on it, it can sound alarms or call the police, just like traditional house alarms. IBM received the patent, No. 8,138,882, on March 20.

With the home security systems people have today, they can accidentally trip their own alarms if they forget to disarm them when they come home, IBM researchers wrote in their patent proposal. The new idea ensures that as long as people are registered in the system as an authorized person, they’ll never trip their own security system. In fact, if the floor senses registered residents are home, it can turn on lights or unlock doors for them.

Besides monitoring unauthorized burglars from the outside, the floors are made to help the authorized people inside monitor each other, too.