Architecture

CHIP House powered by solar energy, controlled with Xbox Kinect

CHIP House powered by solar en...
The CHIP House's most striking feature is the insulation fitted around the home, which makes it look like a giant mattress but also preserves the interior temperature
The CHIP House's most striking feature is the insulation fitted around the home, which makes it look like a giant mattress but also preserves the interior temperature
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The Xbox Kinect system in the CHIP House monitors a resident's location and turns lights off as they exit one area and on as they move into another
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The Xbox Kinect system in the CHIP House monitors a resident's location and turns lights off as they exit one area and on as they move into another
The CHIP House's most striking feature is the insulation fitted around the home, which makes it look like a giant mattress but also preserves the interior temperature
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The CHIP House's most striking feature is the insulation fitted around the home, which makes it look like a giant mattress but also preserves the interior temperature
The CHIP House has smartphone compatibility so the lights and AC can be controlled while you're away by simply tapping on a virtual floorplan
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The CHIP House has smartphone compatibility so the lights and AC can be controlled while you're away by simply tapping on a virtual floorplan
The green-conscious CHIP House produces three times more energy than it uses and is controlled with an Xbox Kinect
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The green-conscious CHIP House produces three times more energy than it uses and is controlled with an Xbox Kinect
The green-conscious CHIP House produces three times more energy than it uses and is controlled with an Xbox Kinect
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The green-conscious CHIP House produces three times more energy than it uses and is controlled with an Xbox Kinect
The CHIP House actually generates three times as much energy as it uses thanks to solar panels and a host of energy saving measures
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The CHIP House actually generates three times as much energy as it uses thanks to solar panels and a host of energy saving measures
View gallery - 6 images

The CHIP House - which stands for "Compact Hyper-Insulated Prototype" - was started with the goal of creating a net-zero energy home (i.e. one that requires no external energy source), and it looks like the designers exceeded that target. The house actually generates three times as much energy as it uses thanks to solar panels and a host of energy saving measures.

Heat generated by the air conditioning is used to make hot water, natural light can be used at most hours of the day, and the whole house's design and ventilation system allow for the temperature to be adjusted quickly and with minimal energy usage. The CHIP House's most striking feature is the insulation fitted around the entire 750-square foot home, which makes it look like a giant mattress but also preserves the interior temperature.

The green-conscious CHIP House produces three times more energy than it uses and is controlled with an Xbox Kinect
The green-conscious CHIP House produces three times more energy than it uses and is controlled with an Xbox Kinect

The incredibly energy efficient design would make the house stand out on its own, but the integrated motion controls and smart features push the CHIP House above your typical green-conscious home and into "home of the future" material. An Xbox Kinect system tracks residents in the house, allowing them to turn appliances and lights on and off just by pointing at them. The Kinect also monitors their location and turns lights off as they exit one area and on as they move into another.

The Xbox Kinect system in the CHIP House monitors a resident's location and turns lights off as they exit one area and on as they move into another
The Xbox Kinect system in the CHIP House monitors a resident's location and turns lights off as they exit one area and on as they move into another

The house also includes other automatic features like closing the shades if you start a movie or the house begins to get warm, turning certain devices on when you sit in specific chairs, and gradually turning the lights on in the morning for a more natural start to the day. It even has smartphone compatibility so the lights and AC can be controlled while you're away by simply tapping on a virtual floorplan.

The CHIP House has smartphone compatibility so the lights and AC can be controlled while you're away by simply tapping on a virtual floorplan
The CHIP House has smartphone compatibility so the lights and AC can be controlled while you're away by simply tapping on a virtual floorplan

The whole project is the result of over two years work by more than 100 students and a partnership between Caltech and SCI-Arc. It took about US$1 million to develop, but producing a duplicate would cost around US$300,000.

The CHIP House came in 6th at the 2011 Solar Decathlon and recently opened its doors to free tours for the public, which will be available through May 31, 2012 at the California Science Center.

View gallery - 6 images
17 comments
Chris Ramas
i\'ll buy two...
yrag
"the insulation fitted around the home, which makes it look like a giant mattress"
OK, it's for insolation, but man, I've got to wonder what that thing is going to look like left out in the elements for years?
BigGoofyGuy
I was thinking it looked like a house inside a pillow but a mattress makes more sense. The inside is really cool.
Vexxarr
I would love one.
But.
What is the resistance to inclement weather? What is the maximum wind speed it can withstand? Is it tornado resistant? Where I live, these are common and extremely relevant home buyer statistics.
Leonard Foster Jr
you get the same or if not better results with a straw bail stucco house much better looking and far cheaper.
Jay Finke
looks likes if you lived next to a dump or a landfill and this is what you could scavenge up for the nicest house on the pile .. We call \'em Boeing bombs
Buellrider
I\'ve always wanted to build a house with 12\" thick insulated walls. Anytime I\'ve asked a builder they always tell me that most of the heat goes through the roof. They continue to build these energy hog 2X4 constructed homes. I love to read about these super insulated and innovative houses that folk get the cajones to build. McMansions be damned, these smaller homes are so much better for this world. Thanks.
Cian Smith
Keep on trying to cram solar energy down our throats.... tech hasn\'t delivered in years, still isn\'t delivering.
Warhead
Straw-bale homes have been around since the 19th century and are already near net-zero energy. Insulation values around R60+, uses renewable/recycled waster material, earth-friendly, cheap... straw is in such abundance that farmers regularly burn it to get rid of it.
With careful planning of windows and concrete slab floors you can get a solar heat gain in the winter and natural geothermal cooling in summer. Add solar or wind power and you can be completely off the grid.
Bruce H. Anderson
The mattress covering may last 10-15 years, depending on the material. But all the pockets and tufting are harborage points, especially on the roof. There is also the real potential of thermal bridging and loss of air barrier, and loose insulation takes up more space than necessary. And structure is needed to support the mattress. A better choice to provide some structure and better insulation would have been insulated metal panels (IMP), which are in common use for industrial and commercial buildings. Insulation values are up to R-48. While the wierdness of the exterior may provide some cachet or artistic cred, in a real-world sense it is incredibly lame.