ARCHITECTS and ENGINEERS

Using the Internet of Things to Manage Efficient Buildings, Part I

Bio_Kult Brad 0074v2 web.jpg
We live in a hyper-connected world in which evolving smart technology linked across the Internet can manage our daily actively remotely. Where once you actually had to be home to adjust the lighting, you can now turn lights on and off remotely from a mobile device.

Most of us are probably familiar with some Internet of Things (IoT) "things" that are becoming commonplace in retail stores. The Nest or Ecobee smart thermostats, for instance, can learn your heating and cooling preferences and be controlled over the Internet from anywhere in the world.

So what does it take to be considered an IoT device? The most fundamental feature of an IoT device is the ability to connect to the Internet. This allows both remote control and monitoring. The next killer feature is the ability for Internet-connected devices to communicate with each other to solve problems and make decisions without human intervention. Once devices can communicate Machine to Machine (M2M), new possibilities for automating processes that were traditionally done manually are introduced, and it's up to our imaginations to figure out how we will customize our devices and spaces to automatically react to our needs. 

As an example of what's possible through Machine to Machine communication, let's consider adding a smart smoke/carbon monoxide detector to your home with the smart thermostat. The most common household cause for CO build-up is from a faulty furnace. A smart CO detector that can "talk" to a smart thermostat has the ability to automatically shut down the furnace if CO is detected in the home. That's not only convenient, it can save lives!

As the IoT trend moves forward, many new sensors will be created to measure the environment around us, similar to how wearables can measure our personal vital signs. Once everything is monitored and connected to the Internet, the line between the physical and the digital world will be much blurrier than it is today. According to Reed's Law, the value of a network increases as the size of the network increases. The more IoT devices are created, the more utility we can realize as we interconnect the "things" of IoT.

In future blog posts, we will explore how IoT devices can be used in commercial buildings to more effectively manage efficient facilities.

Brad Kult recently presented more details in a panel presentation, If These Walls Could Talk, May 10.

Topics: Technology