Person-tracking floor fan keeps the breeze on its moving user
Fans can typically only be locked off or set to oscillate, in either case meaning that they won't necessarily always be blowing on someone who is moving around. As its name implies, however, the Following Fan tracks its user, panning with them as they walk.
The device was designed by Minnesota-based software engineers Nate Oelke and Aj Sakher. And while it looks like an ordinary steel-bodied, aluminum-bladed floor fan, it incorporates a camera in the center of its grill.
A computer vision algorithm running on an integrated microprocessor analyzes the video stream from that camera, detecting the locations of people in its shot. It locks onto whichever person is closest to the camera, triggering the motorized fan head to pan left or right with them as they walk back and forth.
That said, it can also be set to more traditional Stationary or Oscillating modes, and to three different blowing speeds. Additionally, when in Following mode, it will automatically stop blowing when its target leaves the room – thus saving energy. It resumes blowing when they walk back into its shot.
Privacy-minded potential users will also be glad to know that it operates entirely offline, so no video of them is sent to or stored on the internet.
"When we were preparing our patent application, we did a prior art search and found no other portable person-tracking fan that uses a camera and machine learning besides our own," Oelke tells us. "There have been attempts at making a person-tracking fan in the past, such as the Fanzart Humanoid […] but they generally use simple infrared sensors to detect body heat which are unreliable, range limited, and result in an impractical product."
Should you be interested, the Following Fan is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. Assuming it reaches production, a pledge of US$199 will get you one. The planned retail price is $299.