Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
|Smart Buildings User Interface Technology
One thing that seemed a certainty was that we all see with almost total clarity that a new age is rapidly approaching, the IoT combined with edge computing and the smart cloud is inevitably going to be the norm rather than an ideal.
Econowise Group of Companies
a wire free device that enables automatic creation of simple to
navigate human machine interaction environments; complex condition
based monitoring and asset analytics. Previously reserved merely in the
minds of those possessing imaginative foresight, this functionality is
now tantalisingly closer than we all realise?
amalgamation of mobile computing technology and modern coding systems
are edging us ever closer to providing a single device that will
ultimately be embraced as the Holy Grail, providing users with control
over pretty much every aspect of their lives.
expansive in their capabilities mobile devices are now being thrust
into the spotlight as the new platform to provide control over not only
our work and social lives but also the environments in which we reside.
much discussed Internet of things is now seen as the foundation on
which we must all build in order to provide the standard; here though
currently lies the issue that has caused many a mere mortal some
confusion, exactly what is the IOT and how will it be shaped by the
slow yet unstoppable hands of time?
the intelligence really going to sit outside of the boundaries that we
are attempting to control and monitor? Our innate mistrust of things
lacking tangibility is likely to prevent this from being adopted for
some time to come. As an engineer that has spent much of their time at
the coal face I find it much easier to visualise smart buildings
complete with intelligent controllers and peripherals bound by local
thing that we can perhaps all agree on is the inevitability that smart
buildings will increasingly benefit from connectivity to remote
locations, with cloud based solutions ultimately being the
infrastructure that provides the conduit for data that will undergo
subsequent analysis in an attempt to add some sense to our ever
changing whims, changes will then be effected, perhaps this will
largely be via human interaction at this point in time, ultimately
though AI is likely to play its part in the not too distant future?
integrated technology behind what we would term ‘Smart or ‘Intelligent’
buildings is perhaps far more evolved than most would consider. Quite
literally any electrical or mechanical system within a building
including the HVAC, lighting, security, access, lifts, telephones etc,
can be integrated into one highly intelligent system that is able to
function almost as a singular entity.
of true integration may seem quite obvious and yet this type of system
is still a Utopia that many businesses fail to achieve. The technical
capability is there and in fact has been for some time, so why do we
continue to see buildings where systems are disjointed, resulting in
wasted energy and inconsistent environmental conditions which will
inevitably affect mood, morale and wellbeing of occupants.
is fair to say that in a lot of cases poor integration is often a
result of inherent difficulties, often caused by manufacturers false
claims and failure to provide suitable interfaces, or specifiers not
understanding what they are actually forcing on their unsuspecting
clients; this said no engineer has ever claimed that integration is
simple, a current and well-documented fact that there is a severe
decline in engineering skills is also having a severe negative impact
on the building automation industry.
what are we really alluding to here? Proven Technology currently exists
in our everyday lives that can provide untapped connectivity and power
over our environments. Stop and consider the possibilities that mobile
computing technology has to offer?
consider going completely off piste? How do we make it easier to
achieve a fully integrated building, could we consider the unthinkable?
Is integration at a hardware level really required in the conventional
sense at all?
the versatility of modern mesh and wireless networks is it not time to
consider alternatives? Yes there is always going to be the case where
techniques involving wireless networks are not appropriate but this
will typically become a rarity.
the advent of standardised IP networking becoming more and more
prevalent in the building automation industry new opportunities are
upon us. Initiatives such as Project Haystack, which has seen involvement from leading industry experts and associations such as CABA
is providing data sets that are standardised, allowing conventions to
be established; this in turn is providing new and exciting thought
processes to be applied, we do have to consider though that conventions
such as ‘Haystack’ are not currently standards, change over time is
almost inevitable and so we must provide adaptable platforms allowing
open conventions as well as protocols to be implemented.
new deal white paper has now been released as a guide to the Building
Automation Industry in how customers can be better served by the
industry; it details 3 main tenets, Open Standards, Digital Twin &
Service Transparency. Whilst the white paper is not biased towards any
specific manufacturers technology it is a very clear indication of the
functionality that should be adopted and it is worthy of some very
weight coding protocols combined with known but adaptable data sets are
providing opportunities for engineers to think outside of the box, this
has evoked development of agile systems that are capable of connecting
simultaneously to multiple control nodes spanning disparate systems;
empowering users with control without integration.
phones and tablets can now have apps installed on them that provide
full and automatic visualisation of connected systems; add in the
already proven ability of these devices to communicate with almost
anywhere on the planet and we may have stumbled upon something? Has
this not created edge to edge capability whilst bringing cost of
ownership into the realms of the many?
of Intelligent edge technologies has already proved to provide clear
benefits for adopters; measured control along with actionable data will
inevitably lead to improved efficiency, comfort and reliability.
our own creativity will now simply result in significant developments
with this type of technology, where will realism blur into fantasy?
Technologies that could easily be incorporated include, smart alarming,
voice interfacing, way finding, room booking and Camera Feeds, each in
its own right a justifiable opportunity, that if embraced will
ultimately lead to the creation of agile and lean working environments
where a building not only understands it occupants but applies
requirements in their specific localities.
the principle benefits of low cost high tech products can easily be
quantified, studies have identified that there are in fact underlying
benefits that should not be overlooked.
and perhaps more intriguing factor behind the progression of smart
buildings in commercial environments is the increase in competition to
attract talent into the workplace and retain employees. Graduates are
becoming increasingly choosy about who they work for and studies have
shown that they typically lean towards the most exciting, forward
thinking and innovative companies, overt technology adoption can be a
key factor in their decision making process.
in a seminar room at AHR recently, during my annual pilgrimage to
discover both new products and those that are nearing our horizons I
listened intently to speakers such as ken Sinclair and Scott Cochrane,
and there were others, all speaking about not only current trends but
also their own foresight with respect to how they see future
developments within our industry.
thing that seemed a certainty was that we all see with almost total
clarity that a new age is rapidly approaching, the IOT combined with
edge computing and the smart cloud is inevitably going to be the norm
rather than an ideal.
I realise that perhaps not the oracle on these matters, my thoughts
along with our own current developments were in fact worthy of a
mention; which as you have perhaps all gathered by now has prompted
the information in hand it is with total clarity that to me, the role
of the System Integrator will be fundamental in ensuring the future for
our children, their children and many generations to come. Developing
technologies that will assist us all in delivering a healthy, happy and
perhaps less fraught future is vital.
now three years into the road map of an undertaking that has at times
been a very difficult and challenging process, a product worthy of
introduction to our fellow industry professionals is now complete, or
perhaps in hand would be a more appropriate claim, complete is quite
possibly never going to be a word that any of us trying to achieve the
perfect smart building will ever be able to claim, the inevitable truth
is that requirements will be ever evolving and we should ensure that
our frameworks allow flexibility for certain changes.
own journey began with the knowledge that we needed to develop a system
that was flexible, agile, simple to deploy and cost effective. There
are always going to be early adopters of cutting edge technologies,
these would typically be large corporate entities with resources that
allow considerable investment in not only their infrastructures but
also corporate image. Agreed they should be commended for this approach
but it should not be reserved only for those with deep pockets.
the expertise of both building automation and software engineering
teams has resulted in something that we believe could prove to be a
revolution, providing functionality typically reserved for very
is a software solution combining both web and mobile applications and
can be installed onto mobile computing devices such as phones and
tablets, once paring is complete, connection can be established over
either WIFI or hard wired networks to enable the associated device to
scan building automation systems; automatically creating, simple to
navigate user interfaces without the requirement of complex
engineering, users are prompted to enter the devices address details
and activate a system scan.
question is always going to be asked, is this really that different
from what is currently available? Does it really solve any current
industry problems? Perhaps biased in thinking that the answer to this
is a resounding yes, only our peers and fellow professionals in the
building automation industry are truly qualified to provide impartial
answers to this question.
all of the functionality implied in the preceding words the system
comes complete with a native occupant wellbeing interface, multiple
languages at the touch of a button and the ability to provide
operational and occupant emotional data from disparate systems to
either local or cloud based server solutions. Condition based
monitoring, user behaviour and analysis of this information will
ultimately provide the answers in our overarching quest to achieve the
exacting levels of environmental comfort whilst maximising asset
Successful testing has been completed with a large proportion of the industry leading systems including Trend Controls, Easy IO, Tridium, Honeywell, Delta, Distech, Innotech, WAGO and JCI
to name but a few. In essence if a system complies with industry
standard open protocols the connection process will be simple. All
systems simultaneously or in isolation of one another, Bubll offers
total flexibility allowing system designers complete freedom of choice.
Data released by GSMA Intelligence
suggests that the number of mobile computing devices now outnumber the
worldwide population that own them, no other technology has impacted on
a global scale the way that the mobile device has, it is simply a
manmade phenomenon, Zero to 7.2 billion in 3 decades.
it is simple common sense to make use of the power that a large
percentage of us already carry just about everywhere we go? The
expectation or dream that all mobile devices will one day be connected
to our building environments is perhaps taking things a little too far,
but let’s provoke a thought here; the realisation that this will be
true of just a small percentage will provide a significant
will we find ourselves over the coming years, how much further can we
push what is now considered every day technology in delivering cutting
edge functionality at the rapidly evolving Digital Face?
About the Author
Lapsley currently holds the position of Managing Director for The
Econowise Group of Companies; leading a team of dedicated Building
Automation and Software professionals in both the day to day activities
of a System Integrator and developing and implementing cutting edge
solutions for improving efficiency and reducing carbon footprint within
the built environment.
Prior to founding the Econowise Group of Companies around 12 years ago Dave spent upwards of 25 years serving in the Process & Automation Industry working on system from manufacturing equipment through to Commercial and Residential environmental controls, more latterly holding senior management roles.
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