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What if turning a building into and smart building was easier; say as easy as setting up a wireless router? That’s what tech-giant Intel is proposing ahead of the release of their Building Management Platform (BMP) later this year.

Over the last two years, Intel has been working with its partners to produce a low cost, easy to install, IoT sever – the BMP. An early version of the BMP was showcased at IBCon show in June, which featured hardware from Advantech, software from Wind River and Lucid, middleware from Candi Controls, and cyber-security from McAfee. The release of first official version is expected in the next few months.

The “goal is to have this out in the market this year,” said Thierry Godart, Intel’s general manager of energy solutions. “This technology enables a simpler solution for installation, a software-as-a-service approach for applications, and a large and diverse ecosystem of hardware and software vendors.”

So what if this IoT platform is as easy as setting up a wireless router? Firstly, it might be worth saying that setting up a wireless router is not always as straightforward as you’d like, but it’s orders of magnitude easier than what you would expect from a smart building platform. While current smart building systems have been somewhat limited to the largest or most ambitious buildings, a system as easy as what is being proposed would potentially open up a much wider market that includes smaller and lower budget commercial real estate (CRE) projects.

These mid-market buildings make up some 85% of the commercial real estate in the US, that’s over 5 million buildings of which less than 10% have smart building systems. In June, Navigant Research said that the value of the small and medium size commercial building retrofit market will grow by more than half — from $24.1 billion to $38.6 billion – between this year and 2025.

”Intel IoT, with its ecosystem partners, is making an impact in this space from smart building energy management and predictive maintenance of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and other building systems to overall building safety and security,” said Intel’s Smart Building Solutions director Christine Boles.

It seems this will not be a watered down version, Intel’s BMP will connect users to their building through intelligent sensors and GPS features, using biometrics for identification instead of swipe cards, equipping conference rooms with smart features such as smart charging tables, a more intelligent use of lighting, HVAC and even water conservation through rainfall forecasting.

The worlds of building management and building automation systems have bypassed small buildings because of customization cost and lack of decision maker awareness of the level of waste in legacy systems and the potential benefits of encompassing efficiency. The vast majority of mid-market buildings do not have a dedicated facility or energy manager so the promise of system that does not need a resident expert would be a major draw.

“We don’t want to describe Intel’s product as a building automation product,” he said. Instead, “It’s a device networking and management product” for a world in which buildings look more like IT networks than they ever have before.

Memoori’s 2015 report The Transformation of BAS into the Building Internet of Things suggested, “The BIOT industry is currently being driven by players in IT and the communications industry. The building automation systems (BAS) business is becoming more important; however, it will need to take on a more prominent role if the future of building control is to be realized.”

A study by Preservation Green Lab, The New Buildings Institute, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy, earlier this year suggested that small structures could cut energy use from 27% to 59%. Further reinforcing the potential disruption, to this huge market segment, that could be caused by this new generation of smart building systems.

“The building controls industry is ripe for disruption. It’s at the same inflection point today as the computer industry was during the PC revolution decades ago. Like IBM and HP back then, today Honeywell, JCI, Schneider Electric and a handful of market leaders control the high-end systems sold into 10% of the world’s largest businesses and buildings,” Steve Raschke, CEO of BMP middleware partner Candi, told Automated Buildings in an interview last month.

“Just like Apple and Microsoft launched personal computers way back when, there’s now a fundamental challenge to the building controls market and mindset. A wave of next-generation low-cost, easily deployed devices and services has hit the beach, and lots of new players are making smart buildings compelling and accessible for the other 90% of the market. They’re coming in at a fraction of the cost with more applications than today’s leading products,” Raschke added.

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