Hack Your Housing: Check Out This Berkeley Freshman’s ‘Ridiculously Automated’ Dorm Room

So this is pretty fun. A University of California at Berkeley freshman named Derek Low uploaded a video to YouTube today of what he’s calling the “BRAD”, or the Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm. Apparently, Low set out three months ago to make “the most ridiculously automated dorm room in the school ever.” That’s a hard claim to verify, but by the looks of the results — which apparently only set Low back a few hundred dollars — I’d venture to say he has probably taken the crown.

You should really just watch the video above, which is fun and well-edited, but some highlights include:

  • Motion sensors that detect when someone enters or exits the room
  • The ability to control things in the room such as the lights, window shades, and music via voice controls and mobile apps
  • An emergency red “party mode” button that closes the shades, swaps out the overhead lights for flashing neon and strobe ones, and turns on dance music

A quick glance at Low’s web presence shows that the BRAD is far from his only hack — he actually has an entire website he describes as “a home laboratory site which showcases the projects and experiments I’ve done in my free time,” and categories on the site include High Voltage, Lasers, Pyro, Weapons & Ballistics, Electronics, and Chemistry. In general, it’s a refreshing sign that not all young people are consumed in listening to bad pop music, playing Fantasy Football, and sexting (not that there’s anything wrong with those things, per se, but this world is not going to engineer itself.)

At this point Low is still only a teenager, so it’ll be interesting to see what more he comes up with in the years ahead — and actually, whether he makes it through Cal before getting swept up in the tech hiring-pocalypse. Getting an education is important, but something tells me that there are lots of startups and larger tech companies out there that are chomping at the bit to have more people like him on their teams.