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Cloud Cast – the outdoor cooling answer?


The working Cloud Cast system inside Dubai’s Museum of Future Government Services

UAE: Large-scale energy efficient outdoor cooling could become a reality for many living in the hottest countries of the world.

A system combining evaporative cooling with motion-tracking technology has been developed by Italian architect Carlo Ratti and a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Called Cloud Cast, the system, using canopy-mounted misting elements to provide direct and localised cooling, was unveiled at Dubai’s Museum of Future Government Services during the recent UAE Government Summit 2015.

Evaporative cooling is well-known for its energy efficiency and applicability in hot climates, like those encountered in the Middle East. Even though evaporative cooling is far more efficient than DX air conditioning systems, its large-scale use outdoors consumes large amounts of energy and, significantly for countries not blessed with abundant water supplies, large quantities of water. With Cloud Cast the misting is focused on people, greatly increasing efficiency and reducing water consumption.

Cloud Cast belongs to a larger array of studies on location-based temperature control infrastructure, exploring how to make public spaces in cities like Dubai more liveable and sustainable, by synchronising human presence with climate control.

Dubai has a tropical desert climate: summers are extremely hot and humid, with an average high around 40°C (104°F) and overnight lows around 30°C (86°F). Especially in urban environments, throughout most of the year, the climate discourages people from living and walking outside air conditioned buildings.

The ceiling-mounted nebulisers dispense the cool cloud in response to motion sensors

Cloud Cast aims to address this issue by creating mobile, responsive clouds of fresh air which follow people as they move under a canopy. An array of responsive nebulisers is guided by motion sensing, creating a personal climate for each occupant. Individual cooling ‘clouds’ follow people through space, ensuring comfort while improving overall energy efficiency.

The Cloud Cast installation at the Museum of Future Government Services in Dubai recognises visitors via sensors activating a bi-dimensional array of actuators. More specifically, ultrasonic sensors embedded in the suspended canopy structure detect passers-by by interpreting the echoes from high frequency sound waves. Measuring the time interval between sending the signal and receiving the echo to determine the distance to the floor, visitors passing between the sensor and the floor will produce an increase or decrease in this time interval, having either absorbed or reflected the sound waves respectively. Data from these sensors is fed to a central control system used to trigger hydro-valves and LED lights in proximity to the detected target.

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