Building Robotics, a software company that seeks to change the way people interact with buildings, last week announced the launch of a new ecosystem of technologies to improve people's daily lives through enhanced control of their personal workplace.
Building on the company's current offering “Comfy”, their new solution +Comfy ("Plus Comfy") expands the occupant experience of building systems via a single unified interface. +Comfy is helping transform buildings into dynamic systems that improve people’s productivity, health, even creativity, by increasing comfort levels in their workspace.
+Comfy uses a machine learning algorithm to analyze a worker’s usage patterns in order to help reduce energy use and lower costs. By extending this to now control third-party hardware, Building Robotics would like to help companies better manage their environmental expenses. In short: Happy (and comfortable) workers could equal better performance and lower costs.
+Comfy involves an ecosystem of technologies offering personalised control and machine learning to adjust workplace environments to employee preferences. Building Robotics is using a gateway from Intel that brings together disparate hardware and a building management system into one place for the software to leverage, in effect an IoT platform. The increase in open-source platforms makes it easier to work with different building technologies than it has been in the past, and the company has attracted many partners including Lutron, View, and CommScope.
Lighting is pervasive across almost all commercial spaces, and the increase in networked lighting systems and sensors, for example, means more IoT hardware can be leveraged in buildings right now. Memoori’s latest report “The Lighting Controls Business – 2015 to 2020” builds its analysis on the fact that LED Lighting and its control network could provide the platform for many of the Building Automation Services (BAS) that are installed in smart buildings and commercial spaces.
BAS itself is evolving, be it through lighting or other sensory networks, the connectivity opportunities in buildings have merged BAS with IoT to create the Building Internet of Things or BIoT. “BAS Services from a whole range of sensors and devices from building energy controls to physical security products are gradually but inevitably morphing into a more comprehensive and fully automated solution, the BIoT”, explained Memoori’s report Transformation of BAS into the Building Internet of Things 2015 to 2020.
Lighting could create the perfect platform for the BIoT, through systems like +Comfy or Enlighted’s unified digital sensor and data analytics system, released in April this year. “We now have market-proven systems and approaches for collecting digital data, analyzing it on the back end and empowering commercial building owners with the ability to act on the data. And it all starts with lighting”, said Joe Costello, CEO of Enlighted.
All the current suppliers in the Lighting Controls business will have to redefine their business models, “wait and see” is not an option, because lighting now has the capability to offer the most logical route to deliver the IoT in building and beyond, explains Memoori’s report.
"The nature of the workplace and expectations of employees are changing fast", said Christine Boles, Director, Smart Building Solutions, Intel Internet of Things Group. "Innovative technologies such as +Comfy, utilize and Intel based gateway to enhance the occupant experience, and increase employee productivity and satisfaction".
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This expectation is ushering in the biggest shift commercial real estate has seen in decades. As square footage per employee is declining rapidly, new office perks are being introduced and a desire for more flexible and collaborative workspace has grown.
“Our own organisation recently moved into a smaller space”, said employment and economic trend analyst Brian J. Parthum. “Efficient office design has allowed us to rent 7,000 square feet less space, down from 34,000 square feet, and at a lower rate. Additionally, we now have an office that is more attractive to the next generation of staff. The new space takes advantage of natural light, promotes face-to-face contact, and utilises laptops, wireless technology, and mobile devices to allow for a more flexible work environment”.
Building Robotics say they’re “focused on helping people thrive at work by re-connecting them to the buildings they work in”. Increasingly in the twenty-first century, amid continued growth and new challenges we are seeing that buildings have to actually work well; they have to start doing their job much better – they need to be smarter.