July 2018

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"Building Emotion Edge-Bots"

Ken Sinclair
Founder, Owner, Publisher

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Boxredo2Very pleased with the reaction to my last column "Building Emotion" as I mentioned each column becomes the resource and the groundwork for the next. It was great to get feedback on the excitement of the potential mash-up of a fixed physical asset and its emotional contents creating the new identity Building Emotion. An interactive learning feeling of the buildings' habitation. 

I was very pleased with the timing of this interview from Siemens  How can a building evoke emotions? Listen to @SiemensBT CEO @MatRebellius being interviewed by @CNNMoneyCH anchorwoman @amandakaynecnn to find out.  #CreatingPerfectPlaces

Matthias Rebellius, Siemens CEO does an eloquent job of explaining why we need emotion and why Siemens was buying all these early evokers of Building Emotion and what they are going to do with them.

These early evokers of Building Emotion have been part of ongoing discussions for years and we as the building automation industry are extremely impressed and pleased that their efforts have been recognized and rewarded and kudos to Siemens for a full embrace of industry change.

This interview provides history and helps our readers understand the reason for recent purchase by Siemens of Comfy a company we have long been a fan of because of there early entry into Building Emotion. This interview from 2014 provides insight.

"Control by the People For the People" a software layer that incorporates occupants as sensors for the building, saving energy and improving comfort at the same time.

Comfy is a piece of cloud software that plugs into existing Building Management Systems, which we do via BACnet. We’re very focused on making these connections clean and simple, which has been a chronic problem for the BMS world up to this point. In fact, in terms of what we’ve spent our development time on, Comfy is almost the icing on the cake- most of our work has gone into the underlying architecture to tie into these software systems, making everything perform cleanly and reliably.

This Forbes press release provides more insight on the acquisition, Siemens Doubles Down On Smart Building Investment, Acquiring Oakland Startup Comfy

Siemens Continues its Californian IoT Shopping Spree with Acquisition of Comfy -

Why Siemens bought Comfy and how they will make “Perfect Places” by Eric Stromquist
We have been talking about Siemen's acquisition of Comfy for a while. We have wondered just what the two companies will create. In this video, we get clarity on how Siemens and Comfy will work together to create "perfect places" and perfect environments for people who inhabit smart commercial buildings. Eike-Oliver Steffen, the Head of Solutions and Services Portfolio Siemens Building Technologies, and Andrew Krioukou, CEO, and Co-Founder of Comfy discuss their shared vision in this enlighting video.

Siemens Tweet ICYMI  - An app enables us to communicate with each other, But an app can also connect people, places, and systems. We're very excited to announce that @Comfyapp is joining the Siemens family!  #CreatingPerfectPlaces�

Another Siemens purchase, J2 innovations' name says it all, and they have been early adopters and innovators of everything plus one of the backbones of the community.

J2 Innovation’s Unified Toolset from 2011  A unified toolset for creating the User Experience across multiple client platforms ranging from desktop browsers to mobile and handheld devices.

A year later Project Haystack 2012 becomes a thing.

Sinclair: How does J2 Innovation’s FIN Community fit with the Connection Community?

Muench:  We created a technology called FIN (Fluid Integration between devices and humans) that is gaining popularity.  You could say our users are becoming part of our FIN community, while also leveraging membership in other communities like the Niagara Community.  We are also actively involved with emerging communities too, like Project Haystack. Project Haystack is an open source initiative that exemplifies a connected community with the common goal of solving the “big data” problem through tagging and standardized data models.  We are also contributing code to the project to help make Haystack a great protocol for getting data out of any server.  So I see J2 Innovations as one of the many pieces coming together in the future of Connection Communities, all working together for a greater good and helping to move an industry forward.

For history on this valuable Project-Haystack community, please read Seeking stackable semantics & How to Build a Haystack The history of Haystack as chronologically documented with

Siemens got enlightened with this purchase  Siemens drives digital transformation in buildings with the acquisition of Enlighted  Zug, 2018-May-23

Discussions on our website in May 2016.
How Advanced IoT Systems Automate Commercial Buildings From the Direct Digital Control technology revolution of the 1980s to the BACnet movement, the open Internet, and now finally the move towards buildings as connected digital platforms powered by sensor technologies from the Internet of Things. - Tanuj Mohan, Founder &  Chief Technology Officer, Enlighted

So why am I bring up all this history? Edge-bot

Change takes a long time so the fact I am talking funny now, you need to hold in perspective that this may all make sense several years from now...Maybe...big smile.  I want to add to last month column the concept of the Evolving Building Edge-Bots.

Our cloud consultant contributing editor Toby Considine clears the fog and takes us to the edge with this quote.

The term Cloud in an architectural diagram, as originally used, meant “it doesn’t matter where the computing is,” i.e., the term Cloud meant vague and undefined. As happens so often, a few big data center operators (you know their names) re-defined it to mean “in our far-away high-up location.” This definition supports their marketing but restricts the original purpose of the term.

Fog is taking back the cloud, by pointing out that clouds can be low to the ground and widely dispersed. Edge-based analytics in the IOT, for example, is near the Things rather than far away.

Fog is still as vague, still a cloud. Is intelligent processing it in each sensor? In each collection of similar sensors? In a single integrated system?

The answer is, it depends.

More and more IOT applications are choosing when to transmit data to the cloud, usually near an event or trend. In 2015, IOT systems collected nearly 8 Zettabytes of data. (A Zettabyte is a billion Terabytes). Most of this data is never reviewed or analyzed. Local storage and local event processing can reduce the ever-growing data collection—as well as the network bandwidth it requires.

Local event processing and local storage can reduce the data that needs to be stored in the [high] Cloud, as well as transmitting the data that is transmitted in more efficient batch transfers. Even some simple systems are now transmitting only the antecedent and proximate data to the event up to the cloud.

In a trivial and easy to understand example, consider the web-enabled doorbell, recording video continuously. It maybe has the capacity to keep a few hours of video locally. When the doorbell rings, it can send the 30 sends before and 30 seconds after to the cloud (transmitting the Antecedent and Proximate data). Before this edge processing, users would see the hat of a delivery person walking away. With this intelligent edge processing, the user sees the face of the person coming onto the porch and ringing the bell.

Now extend this thought to whatever data collection you do. Perform simple analysis locally, and quickly. I say quickly because one principle for good IOT is to “analyze quickly, while it still matters.” This approach can preserve privacy while lessening the need for [mostly] unused zettabytes being transferred to the remote data center.

So, the Fog is the Cloud, just one near the action, on the edge…Thanks,  Tc

So what is a Bot and why is it better on the edge? And why is there an evolution to Edge-Bots?

From this resource 10 Bot Building platforms and why you need to build a bot for your business (Part 1) by Masha Kubyshina

edgebot2Bots are the new way businesses talk to their customers. First, every business needed to have a website, then a mobile-friendly design, then an app. Businesses are now building bots as a customer communication channel.

Bot adoption is growing fast! Since Facebook opened its Messenger in April this year, there have now been 33,000+ bots created on the platform. The great thing about bots is that the communication goes both ways. The “machine” attempts at understanding the questions asked and replies based on the user’s intent. The goal is to be fast, helpful and efficient. Currently, the majority of the bots are automated with an assistant in the loop to help train the bot on new questions.

While bot ecosystems are still in its infancy, bot adoption by brands and users is growing exponentially. If you have a website, the chances are that you will need a bot in the future. Starting early puts you ahead of the game.

Bot platforms
can exist on small form computers, microcomputers, like raspberries, beagle boards, and modified cellphones bits on stand-alone bot boards.

A long stand joke in the automation industry is that we are always moving towards or away from centralization our recent journey to put all in the far cloud is over. Security risks are far too great  So fog is the cloud, just one near the action, on the edge.  These edge-bots capable of learning and building emotion are being developed rapidly by creators and makers with low-cost microcomputers.

I see these devices not as new hardware in the field but evolved existing hardware that performs multi-functions such as comfort, lighting, occupancy acknowledgment, and yes the self-learned building emotion near the action, on the edge. Close communication would be via BACnet, Bluetooth, Zigbee, etc. The evolved hardware the edge-bot would live near the close edge either in a lighting fixture or an air conditioning terminal close to a power source and would be commissioned and interacted with by various wireless devices. The interaction of the devices would start to define the building emotion for that portion of the building.

The evolving emotions would largely be created by ”deviceless” mentality as the idea, that users, meaning humans, wouldn’t have to use devices, apps or interfaces to access smart services. The method of access was suggested as anything from a mobile phone to facial recognition. The underlying idea being that the creation of intelligence is hidden away in the engine room, always there and always on, but never visible to the user. This idea seems to arise from a widespread frustration at countless apps and interfaces we need to be opening, learning, mastering and,  updating constantly.

An example of resources under development Cognitive Services by Microsoft Azure  Infuse your apps, websites, and bots with intelligent algorithms to see, hear, speak, understand and interpret your user needs through natural methods of communication. Transform your business with AI today.

More evolution underwaySandstar project will change how we think of DDC. Major improvements are hardware independent Sedona code, historical data based control logic, driver abstraction via haystack can be achieved now. With the improvements to haystack ops where Sedona components can be created changed deleted and linked, artificial intelligence can be utilized to generate and improve upon human generated DDC code. We call this feature meta-morphing programming. On the roadmap, having haystack client in Sedona will help us to have P2P device communication along with historical data and analytics based control.

Here is an example of a free downloadable open operating system running on a small, low-cost single-board microcomputer with connections of BACnet, Sedona, Haystack capabilities, just add memory with micro SD card embedded with yet to be developed voice interface and Edge-Bot learning systems.

Contemporary Controls’ launched a building automation blog for building automation professionals and enthusiasts sub-titled “Building on Open Control.”The blog is written by Zach Netsov, who is a Product Specialist at Contemporary Controls for their BASautomation line of products.  I know people are interested in open controls. In a product line, we call DIY (Do It Yourself), we recently released a 12-point I/O board for the Raspberry Pi along with a BACnet server and Sedona virtual machine that runs on the Pi and asked people to tell us how they used them.  Within weeks they had them installed on jobs for applications we would never assume. In addition, we got questions and suggestions on how to make it better for them. There is interest, and many are willing to share stories. 

Wonder how these hardware platforms will be humanized with IoT Platforms here is insight. Yes, it is early days, but mindful change is in the air.

In closing, from this tweet, "Good words Toby, Thanks, we are trying #humanizetechnology with the concept of creating Building Emotion."

"To succeed at #digitaltransformation, instead of making humans more technical, we need to make #technology more human."


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