February 2020

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"Open" Your Mind, Get Out of Your Head

On the journey to truly open systems, the first thing we have to open is our minds, unhinge our biases, simply said, "get out of your head."

Ken Sinclair
Founder, Owner, Publisher

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We all are struggling with what the word "Open" truly means. We keep approaching the problem with a history of biases of what it has not been in the past.  Step away from your hectic life. Strive to diversify, step out of your comfort zone. open your mind, unhinge your biases, get out of your head.


Maybe Tiny Buddha can help me explain

It’s an understanding that’s completely changed my life, about how our thinking is separate from who we truly are. We are not our thoughts. Nope, quite the opposite.  We have a constant stream of thoughts meandering through our minds. That’s part of being human. However, we get to choose which of those to engage with.

Author and blogger Pam Grout has a brilliant analogy for thoughts: They’re like a line of ants marching across your picnic blanket. You can choose to observe them as they keep on marching straight off the other side of the blanket and disappear, or you can choose to scoop them up and interact with them. Make them your focus. Fuss over them. And they’ll probably bite you too.

But there’s your power: It’s your choice. You decide which thoughts you pay attention to.  Because thoughts come and go. All the time. And that’s normal.  If you’re able to observe the fact that you’re overthinking, then you’re already noticing the separation of you and your mind.  It really is that simple.

Big Open thoughts outside of our head bring clarity but more questions to the meaning of "Open" in our future. Here are examples,

AI data should be open aka not-biased. This is a big topic for data training AI creating biased AI systems which we talk about later in this chapter. but let me start with being "Open" meaning to share data between IoT devices which lead the discussions about open standards.

The IoT wars are over, maybe? Amazon, Apple, Google give up on smart-home domination dreams, agree to develop common standards -

After years of trying and failing to dominate the smart home market with their own standards, tech giants Amazon, Apple and Google have finally agreed to work on a set of common code that will allow smart home products, from thermostats to cameras to plugs to digital assistants, to work together seamlessly.

The broad brush blueprint of the new standard is stark in its obviousness. It will be an IP-based protocol so it can connect directly to the internet rather than require a hub; it will be open-source and royalty-free and allow for end-to-end secure communication; and it will work with core standards like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.


Before I get into what the Connected Home over IP industry working group (CHOIP? Probably CHIP but CHOIP is funnier.) is trying to make, I think we need to take a minute thinking over what it is. It’s rare to see all these companies in the same headline, and it’s even rarer to see that headline be something they agreed on instead of something they’re being investigated over.

If nothing else, this working group is worth paying attention to because it has a better than average chance (for proposed open source standards, anyway) of succeeding. That’s not often the case in the smart home space. In fact, it’s usually not.

The new smart home standard isn’t just about the smart home DECEMBER 20, 2019 BY STACEY HIGGINBOTHAM -

To be honest, almost 48 hours after the bombshell announcement, I’m still not sure what it means. But I can make some good guesses, and I know what questions I’ll be asking. And based on what I do know, I believe it will be good for both consumers and developers, and represents a real threat to companies trying to build hardware for the smart home. It also opens up what I believe will become a new layer in the IoT “stack,” which is where companies should be focusing their efforts in order to distinguish themselves from the competition.

The CHIP standard will be developed under the Zigbee Alliance; a rough draft from the working group is expected in late 2020. While no one is making promises that your existing smart home products will work with the new CHIP standard retroactively, people I’ve spoken with who are involved in the various organizations that make up the alliance believe most of the hubs released over the last two or three years that have BLE, Zigbee, or Thread radios will be able to handle the conversion to CHIP.

A standard like CHIP has the potential to become the equivalent of HTML for translating a real-world product’s functions to the digital world. It may start with thermostats and light bulbs, but if it becomes widely adopted in the home, products such as medical devices, appliances, and even cars would want to work with it. It’s no wonder big companies want to make this happen.

Interesting that the above articles are online within three day of the announcement, this suggesting the speed at which we need to get our of our head.

Open Standard or Exclusive Club? Amazon, Apple & Google Collaborate on Smart Home Published: January 4th, 2020

Rather than the open playing field that has seen Google, Amazon, and Apple fight for supremacy of the smart home, big tech firms may have redrawn the field itself to ensure that no one else can compete with them. Furthermore, key smart home issues such as security, device onboarding, updates, and processing power demands have not been addressed by Project CHIP yet, leaving many outside of the exclusive club in the dark about how to prepare for this new smart home future.

For the user, the new standard offers hope that the futuristic smart home they have long been promised may soon become a reality, albeit potentially with only a handful of firms that are rich and creative enough to play ball. Today, we are still in the early stages of development for the Project CHIP smart home standard, too soon to call it the promise-land for the smart home or an exclusive club for big tech to rule the connected household. Either way, Project CHIP makes for a disruptive start to the new decade for the smart home.

Some how "Open" should be simple but this pictograph shows maybe not? If you define IoT as "physical things with a Web API" you definitely need a "cloud" backend. Here's a collection of IoT reference models

This next article states 100% of the time they want software and hardware that is the most interoperable and open. The word “open” seems to be this carrot that we dangle in front of people,

The Path to Interoperable Systems and Building Controls Excellence  Integrated multiple-manufacturer controlled facilities have gained much wider acceptance in these past years, but we are still missing some big pieces of the puzzle. - Calvin Slater, Climatec

This is the destination that we are all trying to reach and where all the true value is. I’m really not sure what is in store for us at this level, but we will never be able to reach these heights by continuing to build on shaky foundations.

Not particularly at this moment, but from time to time in my short controls career, I’ve been in front of customers with existing controls who were asking for a replacement or alternative to their system. Almost 100% of the time they want software and hardware that is the most interoperable and open. The word “open” seems to be this carrot that we dangle in front of people, and “proprietary” is the smear we use against our competitors.

A lot of these facilities owners know what they want, they just don’t know what exactly to ask for. Many times we are not very helpful in delivering the correct answers to them. Some facilities owners do not care for the controls industry very much anymore. In their view, we are overcharging them for systems with built-in obsolescence. Is selling people what they don’t want a business model that will last another decade?

I’ve heard people say, “This is just how it is” and “The market has spoken.” The market has not spoken; the market has yet to exist. It would be like saying, “The market has spoken, people just want to buy stuff at a store.” before Amazon existed.

But I could be totally wrong…. If you disagree, and are completely satisfied with the state of our industry, please ask yourself these questions:

Why are we being shown-up by the home automation industry on a daily basis? Why are they rapidly accelerating past us?
Why did other communication protocols quickly lose market share to BACnet?
Why did Niagara become the dominant enterprise integration software platform that many vendors now offer a version of?
If you are interested in these issues, or just want to tell me why I’m wrong, please join us at AHR next month where we will be discussing such topics at our Open-Hardware and Open-Software free sessions.

more insight by Zach, "The Open Edge"

Edge Computing Explained  “Edge computing places networked computing resources as close as possible to where data is created." - Zach Netsov, Product Specialist, Contemporary Controls

Edge computing allows devices that would have relied on the cloud entirely, to process some of their own data locally. For example, a networked camera may now perform local data processing for visual recognition and respond accordingly, instead of sending data it had captured to the cloud, waiting on the data to be processed in the cloud, and receiving the processed response back from the cloud. Eliminating this dependency on the cloud and performing local data processing improves latency (the time is taken to generate a response from a data input), as well as reducing the cost and requirement for mass data transmissions associated with all cloud services. Edge computing mitigates latency and bandwidth constraints in new classes of IoT applications by shortening distances between devices and the cloud services they require, as well as reducing network hops. Edge computing is important due to the growing demand for faster responses from AI services, the constant rise of IoT applications, and the increasing pressure on network capacity. As we enter the next step in digital evolution and increasingly utilize artificial intelligence services for optimization of building and process automation equipment in creating smart buildings and smart cities, data processing at the edge will become even more critical.

This article speaks to Open + hardware-agnostic - Revolution within Smart Buildings in Progress - Alper Üzmezler, BASSG LLC. - We have been busy writing the open-source project called Project Sandstar. We had set sail to merge Sedona Framework and Project Haystack and we were investigating how it could work. Should we put haystack on top or bottom or both? Why are we merging the two? What is our goal?

We believe open hardware designs will lead to the revolution within smart buildings. We are looking for hardware designers that are well versed in RISC-V. (RISC-V is open hardware instruction-set that is becoming popular in hardware design).

This article helps get us out of our head "Born Connected" – The Next Generation of OEM’s - Nicolas Waern, "The Building Whisperer"

The products which are born connected have the possibility to solve a lot of the challenges prior to even becoming problems in the first place. Adding the possibilities for connectivity enables OEMs to get to a “Born connected” strategy which has many benefits. This is not only for the OEMs but also for the customers and other stakeholders in the total value chain. The benefits are the ones described above, but it’s also a paradigm shift on how things are done and will be done in the future.

I would argue that almost all products can, should, and will be born connected.

Followed by this article stating, how thinking out of our head might provide value - Some time ago, we questioned; how could this be achieved and was it even possible? Well, thousands of hours down the line I can finally say that I think that I am a small part of a dedicated team of individuals that may just have provided a path to achieve this.

Smart Devices Provide the Solution?  A native wellbeing interface along with a virtual engineering mode, bringing building operators closer to a finite understanding. - Dave Lapsley, Managing Director, Econowise Group of Companies

We cannot simply wait for the big manufacturers to come along with an affordable system which is flexible enough to suit all situations and perhaps, more importantly, all budgets, it is not in their interest to provide an open, scalable platform at a budget and therefore we have to conclude that it is not going to happen.

Some time ago, we questioned; how could this be achieved and was it even possible? Well, thousands of hours down the line I can finally say that I think that I am a small part of a dedicated team of individuals that may just have provided a path to achieve this.

I have been fortunate enough along the way to meet and get to know certain individuals, including some young guns, that right throughout the process has continued to inspire me with their knowledge and dedication to an undertaking that has been a difficult process, that said, in my opinion, the results have been exceptional.

Whilst we had already developed Bubll, which is now becoming a very successful product in its own right, turning standard Android and IOS devices into agile networks of user centric control and information interfaces whilst also offering some very unique engineering functions.

contemporary Out of our psychical heads and into our 'AI' artificial intelligent virtual heads

Our contributing editor Sudha Jamthe provides this deeper AI definition of Open

"Our minds should become open and unbiased to develop the correct AI technologies. Our devices should share data openly to allow for the action of machines to share openly. The lack of interoperability  among IoT devices today is not the same bias as in data but another form of bias limiting customers to one company’s products limiting open access of home or building data.

Non-interoperability of devices creates silos of products. Biased data leads to silos of humans impacted by the incorrect AI models.  In the end not being open either way fragments humanity and impacts servicing our customers to the full potential of possibilities promised by automating buildings with technology.”

AIX, designing for AI -
Data Powering AIX in Automated Buildings  Building automation with IoT sensors  and voice will be successful only if the design communicates to the users that their data is being collected and gets their buy-in to make it a joint journey to find acceptable uses of the data. - Sudha Jamthe, CEO, IoTDisruptions

Sensor data can be combined with other data sources to provide training data to build AI to develop predictive models to add intelligence to buildings. For example, the HVAC system in the building can learn about user movements in the building complex and decide to adjust the heat setting to save energy usage. Or the voice interface in an elevator can learn a user's mood to monitor the elevator safety of its building residents.

- A Short Online course for Product Designers to learn to design for Voice, Computer Vision, AR/VR and Machine Learning

AI analytics in BMS will help make buildings smart and responsive

In an ideal scenario, BMS platforms would run building systems based on conclusions drawn through the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other complex statistical methods. The platform would then automatically adjust various subsystem settings without requiring involvement of the facilities manager, except for the approval of fundamental platform-level changes in specific circumstances. While most AI solutions currently available are incapable of operating in such a model scenario, machine learning is increasingly being used across the buildings industry for more efficient operations.

These and other findings can be found in my new report, Artificial Intelligence in Smart Buildings – 2019, a comprehensive examination of the potential presented by artificial intelligence in smart buildings, as well as a roadmap showing both opportunities in the market and barriers to the wider adoption of AI-based solutions across a variety of end-user sectors.

#Google's CEO says #AI will be more important than fire or electricity for humans.

The conclusion is that I am clearly out of my head which the readers of my words have understood for some time but the message is we need to try and understand the forces that could both open and close our world. I encourage you to look beyond your biases and get for at least a moment, completely out of your head,
choose which thoughts to engage with then do not overthink but rethink what "Open" means to you.


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