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Bionic Eyeballs and Digital Ceilings: What the Future Holds for Intelligent Buildings

Casey Talon
May 19, 2016

Intelligent Building

I am a dedicated fan of sci-fi thriller Orphan Black, but the idea of bio-tech jaw implants shook me to the core in a recent episode—talk about taking wearables to the next level. The thing is, a less diabolical (and more voluntary) implant is not so far-fetched. Enter Google. Earlier this month, the tech giant took one more leap forward in its vision for integrated intelligence—its 2014 patent has been published, setting the stage for the intra-ocular device. Step one.

The good stuff buried in the patent: “The inter-ocular device could include one or more antennas configured to enable communication with an external system and/or reception of wireless power by the intra-ocular device.” For now, it seems this is an ideation of connected health, but the possibilities are really endless. The early experiments with Google Glass could point toward a new reality of contact computing work to be had. In reality, step two—the era of reading operating stats via apps that send operational data tied to nameplates through your eyeballs—is probably a ways off. That said, there are disruptive shifts in facilities management underway today.

Inter-ocular Device

Casey Eyeball Blog

(Source: Google)

Reimagining Infrastructure

Wearables will likely remain outside the body (at least for the next year), but nonetheless, technology is transforming the facilities management industry. The Internet of Things (IoT) is sure making a buzz, but its impact in buildings is real. Navigant Research defines IoT as a scalable, secure, and open platform for aggregating and communicating data for performance improvement. What this means is there is a proliferation of devices that are transforming facilities into data-rich environments, and when these devices are networked as a part of an IoT infrastructure, better information becomes available. This is key; there is a lot of noise surrounding technology advancements and more data, but these solutions only have value if they deliver better information. The effective IoT-enabled intelligent building delivers efficiency in operations and energy, but also a host of other business benefits, including occupant engagement, satisfaction, and productivity.

Networked Building Optimization and Lifecycle Benefits

A unified approach to optimizing performance of multiple systems in a facility is fundamental to the process of developing intelligent buildings. Let’s step back to the technology available today. Cisco, for example, has introduced the Digital Ceiling Framework, a single IP network for directing improvements in both HVAC and lighting. The company recently explained the end-to-end benefits of a unified platform: “The convergence of these disparate systems is providing opportunities that reduce construction and operating cost; enhance physical and cybersecurity of people, assets, and performance in buildings; reduce environmental footprints through the use of advanced analytics; and allow for personalised and customised experiences that appeal to workers from all generations.”

Other major industry players are making big moves to showcase their capabilities in this IoT-enabled approach. As another example, Current announced its acquisition of Daintree Networks in late April. The story is analogous; IoT solutions enable optimization across the facilities value chain through coordinated operations of HVAC and lighting.

The industry is taking note of the benefits of IoT and software. According to a recent survey by Schneider Electric, 65% of facility managers predict IoT will affect building and maintenance within the next year.  There is a huge market to penetrate, when you consider that this same survey found that only 18% of facility managers are using continuous or real-time data. Our research indicates the tides are turning and the pace of investment is accelerating as IoT devices and intelligent building software open the door to broad business benefits for companies operating in facilities large and small.