Data collected from smart electricity meters have been shown to contain a wealth of information. Through the application of algorithms for load disaggregation, it is possible to identify the contributions of individual appliances to the electricity bill as well as emitting suggestions to replace inefficient devices. Almost all documented practical use cases of load disaggregation rely on the analysis of appliance operational times and their impact on the monthly electricity bill. However, load disaggregation bears promising potential for other use cases. Recognizing user activities without the need to set up a dedicated sensing infrastructure is one such application, given that many household activities involve the use of electrical appliances. State-of-the-art disaggregation algorithms only provide support for the recognition of one appliance at a time, however. We thus take load disaggregation to the next level, and present to what extent it is applicable to monitor user activities involving multiple appliances (operating sequentially or in parallel) using this technique. For the evaluation of our Non-Intrusive Activity Detection (NIAD), we synthetically generate load signature data to model nine typical user activities, followed by an assessment to what extent they can be detected in aggregate electrical consumption data. Our results prove that state-of-the-art load disaggregation algorithms are also well-suited to identify user activities, at accuracy levels comparable to (but slightly below) the disaggregation of individual appliances.
Index Terms— smart metering, activities of daily living, activity recognition