September 2010

AutomatedBuildings.com

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EMAIL INTERVIEW - Lyrtech, Inc., & ObjectVideo, Inc. & Ken Sinclair
Lyrtech & Object Video


Video Analytics Increase Building Intelligence

 The Intelligent Occupancy Sensor (IOS), unlike conventional room sensors, utilizes intelligent video analytics, which, besides being significantly more accurate, provide the ability to count the number of people within an area at any given time. This occupancy function allows building managers to very specifically determine how the space is supported by automated systems.

With such a strong push nowadays toward green standards, LEED certification and the reduction of CO2 emissions from commercial buildings, what types of products are available now that may be able to help building managers with this ever-complicated compliance responsibility? With the U.S. Department of Energy reporting that lighting and HVAC represent 40% of the average commercial building’s electric bill, it is certain that some kind of innovative and intelligent systems will be required to ensure these increasingly high standards are met, but more importantly, to ensure significant energy savings – in real dollars – are achieved.

AutomatedBuildings.com had a dialogue recently with representatives of two technology companies that have combined forces to bring such a product to market. The product is called the Intelligent Occupancy Sensor (IOS), a manufacturer’s product prototype, or reference design, from Canada-based Lyrtech, Inc., with intelligent video technology embedded in the product from ObjectVideo, Inc. of Reston, Virginia.

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Sinclair:  Describe what your Intelligent Occupancy Sensor (IOS) actually is, and your target market.

Lyrtech / ObjectVideo:  The IOS is a compact vision-based sensor reference design capable of detecting and counting the number of people in given areas utilizing intelligent video analytics. A reference design for manufacturers of room occupancy-sensing products, it is the “guts” of a finished product, fully configured with imager and necessary hardware, firmware and software components so that the manufacturer can go to market very quickly to fulfill the need for more accurate and intelligent occupancy sensors. Any company that supplies room or area occupancy sensors alone or as part of a more complete building management solution should be interested in this product.

Sinclair:  What is the nature of the relationship between Lyrtech and ObjectVideo and, more importantly, how can this product benefit the building management user?

Lyrtech / ObjectVideo:  ObjectVideo is a supplier to Lyrtech, providing the intelligent software that allows the IOS to perform its unique functions. Lyrtech provides their reference design to manufacturing suppliers to the building controls industry, who utilize Lyrtech’s design to go to market quickly with final product offerings.

Sinclair:  What are some of the potential applications of the IOS?

Lyrtech / ObjectVideo:  Commercial applications of this technology are increasingly widespread. It can be used for general security, government, retail, casinos/gaming, transportation, elderly care, hotel occupancy, human resource management and financial services. The technology is particularly well-suited to intermittently-occupied spaces or spaces where lights and HVAC systems typically remain on when the space is unoccupied.

Sinclair:  What is the difference between Lyrtech’s product and passive IR products already in the marketplace?

Lyrtech / ObjectVideo:  The IOS, unlike conventional room sensors, utilizes intelligent video analytics, which, besides being significantly more accurate, provide the ability to count the number of people within an area at any given time. This occupancy function allows building managers to very specifically determine how the space is supported by automated systems. Besides the obvious benefits to building owners in terms of energy savings, the tenant also benefits, as the same sensors can be used for scheduling and capacity monitoring, which helps maximize overall space utilization.

Sinclair:  In terms of energy savings, can the IOS be used to automatically set heat and HVAC to maximize energy usage in specific areas? You say the user can achieve more significant energy cost savings with the incorporation of the IOS over conventional sensor technology. What are some of the statistics that point to such savings?

Lyrtech / ObjectVideo:  The high level of accuracy is the key to the value of this product. Even 15 minutes of excess daily lighting usage per room, for a 20-story building with 20 rooms per floor results in up to 5,000 KW excess per year. So even the slightest increase in room occupancy detection accuracy is meaningful, especially considering what this adds up to, for example, across an entire campus of commercial buildings. If only 10% of all existing 20-story/20 room office buildings integrated IOS devices with their lighting controls, there is the potential to save approximately 3.5 terawatt-hours of electricity use each year, equivalent to almost $290 million (assuming 75% utilized space and $0.08/kWh.)

Sinclair:  If the customer has different needs, can this product provide different features in terms of coverage, height, communications, power consumption, etc.?

Lyrtech / ObjectVideo:  Yes. This is the primary reason the product is offered in a reference design mode so the manufacturer can access the technology using different communication interfaces, field-of-view features and rule definition setups. Lyrtech can adapt the technology to the manufacturers’ needs so that the end product meets the requirements of the specific market.

Control Solutions, Inc Sinclair:  How can the process of setting up an IOS-enabled device be made as easy as possible within a building installation and how does it talk with the building management system?

Lyrtech / ObjectVideo:  Video analytics uses a special calibration function to determine the accurate size of a person in the specific area being covered, and the calibration uses specific parameters that can be determined before installation, so the sensor can be essentially pre-calibrated before installation. The device can also be pre-populated with other rule types, like a specific “area of interest,” so that once installed, that area is the only area considered for control. Notably, the IOS does not output video; it outputs data. So privacy concerns are nonexistent as the device communicates room or area counts to the building management system based on set rules and predetermined area requirements.

Sinclair:  How is an IOS-enabled product truly “intelligent” versus the kinds of sensors we see in commercial buildings today?

Lyrtech / ObjectVideo:  It can differentiate between understanding there is something present in the room (passive IR) and the actual number of humans occupying the space. This is very important when the determiner for certain lighting and HVAC settings must be based on real counts. Although some savings are realized with conventional technology, an IOS-enabled sensor is accurate enough so that off/on thresholds do not have to be set so conservatively that actual savings are arguable.

More information can be found about ObjectVideo’s building automation technology capabilities at: http://www.objectvideo.com/objects/pdf/solutions/intelligent_bldg_automation.pdf
and about Lyrtech’s IOS at:
http://www.lyrtech.com/Documents/product_sheets/Product%20sheet%20-%20IOS%20(hi_res).pdf.

Contact Francis Letourneau of Lyrtech at francis.letourneau@lyrtech.com.

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