MID 2017 EDITION
This edition of Buzzworthy Technologies further explores the confluence of technology and society. Director of Technology Brad Kult highlights some new technology concepts and expounds on topics explored in the previous Buzzworthy Tech post. To get his take on these topics and how they impact our digital, physical, and social environments, scroll on below or download the interactive pdf.
MID 2017 EDITION
HGA has expanded its use of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented (Mixed) Reality (AR) since last year’s Buzzworthy Tech edition. We are using tools that allow participants to enter a virtual model, a mock-up of a space that hasn’t been built yet and can be adjusted on the fly. Our designers can stand inside virtual spaces and collaborate on designs from offices across the country. HGA has also been experimenting with "mixed" reality, which allows spectators to view a VR participant interacting with the virtual space. This is helpful in engaging a larger group of people in what is typically an individual experience.
Computational Design, also referred to as parametric design, is a rapidly advancing new paradigm within the A/E/C industry. Custom digital tools are enabling HGA to explore more comprehensive design solutions and streamline processes with greater complexity and rigor, while allowing us to do some of these tasks in minutes rather than hours. HGA also is using these tools to learn about its own design process, namely through the collection of data from its projects which can become a driver for more measured and insightful design solutions. HGA has a rapidly advancing initiative to implement automation, complex geometry management, data analytics, and optimization into the design process across all disciplines.
Advancements in screen technology over the past several years have been, well...boring. High-definition, 3D, and 4K screens are basically commodities. But the latest generation of screens, known as Collaboration Boards, offer new features that are worth getting excited about. Collaboration Boards are large multi-touch screens that allow users to join the on-screen markup session from their own mobile device from anywhere in the world in addition to hands-on collaboration.
Fault Detection and Diagnostics (FDD) has become the new standard in cutting-edge analysis, intelligent alarming, and visualization. As low-cost sensors proliferate, the velocity and volume of building data becomes too great for humans to process. Tireless machines running FDD analytics can use sensor data to predict equipment failures, make recommendations for energy or comfort optimization, and provide decision support to management and executives. We are just starting to scratch the surface when it comes to applying big data science to buildings.
“Smart” data uses fields of metadata, such as tagging a photo of yourself on Instagram, to provide additional context that can help machines interpret the information they are processing. Semantic contextualization helps automate complicated or time-consuming manual tasks by giving the computer a level of awareness of what it is doing. For buildings, smart data based on Project Haystack can save money by simplifying the implementation of Fault Detection and Diagnostic analytics, system integration, and the creation of operator tools. Because of continued data convergence, contextualizing smart data is ever more valuable.
Sensors provide real-time readouts about the physical environment and building equipment, which are used to create a virtual building model known as a digital twin. The digital twin model can be used to virtually test equipment configurations and predict potential impact before the equipment is purchased, allowing owners to select the best equipment and operating configurations to optimize energy and comfort.
Machine vision, or computer vision, refers to the ability for computers to recognize what they are seeing. This technology is driven by self-driving car applications where the autonomous vehicles must understand the context of the world around them. It's being used to improve the reliability of security camera analytics to recognize faces or search based on clothing color. Other applications include retail analytics, manufacturing process and quality control, and precision agriculture.
Computer vision and will enable machines to recognize people based on biometric markers, such as walking gait. Other bio markers, such as how you move the mouse, your typing cadence, or how you hold your phone can be used to identify you with enough certainty to eliminate passwords in the near future.
In-building locator technology that works like an indoor GPS continues to be a hot topic, with competing technology offerings based on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons, RFID, Wi-Fi, imaging (another machine vision application), and others, but still no clear winner can be declared. Based on the ability to provide insight into space utilization, offer customized occupant experiences, and provide space personalization, we expect locator systems will have a big impact on workspaces and their occupants as the technology continues to mature. Applications for wayfinding can be beneficial to healthcare, museums, and campuses.
[Photo credit: Zhengyuan Xu, UC Riverside]
The LED lighting revolution has ushered in a new era in lighting technology. The low powered LED lights can be powered using Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology, which is used to power many desk phones and Wi-Fi access points in office environments. This would represent a dramatic shift from the line voltage (120V or 208V) lighting circuits that have been traditionally used by more power hungry incandescent fixtures. Because LED lights are so power efficient, additional devices could be built into the fixtures, such as speakers, environmental sensors for air quality or sound measurements, and locator beacons. Connecting all of those devices over a single data cable that is capable of delivering PoE is what Cisco is referring to as the Digital Ceiling. The DC Ceiling, an electrified ceiling grid, is a competing low-voltage technology.
The smart city concept is based on the idea of interconnecting physical, digital and human assets within a community to make better use of public and private infrastructure and services. Better connectivity will assist city planning, residents, transportation, and public services, such as police and fire to do the greatest good. Planning and implementation of smart cities will require a great deal of cooperation by many different municipal parties, public/private partnerships, different manufacturers, and construction teams. [Image source.]
The circular/regenerative economy refers to the notion that a building or a product is just a place where we store resources (materials) until they are no longer useful and then, instead of throwing them away (coincidentally, there is no “away”), we recover and reuse them, either as components or a raw materials. We do this already when we crush old concrete into rocks and use it as fill, but for the most part a little innovation is needed at this point to redesign our world so that recovery and reuse is a lot less complicated than it is now. This can be aided by intelligent assets with embedded Internet of Things technology and some heavy duty systems thinking. Don’t forget to include the consumer in your design ideas.
Over the last half a decade, startups like AirBnB and Uber have uber-fied the way we share resources by connecting those in need with those who have something for rent. Co-working spaces such as WeWork help to support startups and freelancers working in the gig-economy by providing short term flexible working spaces where often like-minded people can work side by side on different projects. Fractional ownership and platform-as-a-service concepts offer building operators new options for shifting capitol expenses to operating expenses. In this service-based world, the value of a full service consultant grows ever more important as the trusted advisor and subject matter expert with perspective on how each of the piecemeal services fits into an organization’s holistic master plan.
Blockchain technology provides a public record of transactions that is distributed across many users’ computers, making it difficult to falsify a transaction. The secure transactions the blockchain enables can be used for fractional ownership and sharing economy payments. Micro-transactions that don’t incur banking fees can be used by utilities for both buying energy, and selling energy back to the grid. The public ledger can form an unalterable record service record for equipment and properties, and may be used to secure communications for the Internet of Things (IoT). Corporate real-estate is also interested in avoiding banking fees for micro-transactions, and the decentralized ledger can eliminate help in administering leases. There is even talk of the potential to use blockchain to securitize leases, as we do with debt, so they can be traded on a market.