It’s alive!! 5 ways buildings are taking advantage of the IoT

By | 4 minute read | December 8, 2017

Augmented reality in building management

After spending a few days at TRIMax immersing myself in all things around facilities management and buildings of the future, one thing was clear. I need to take my building out for a coffee and pick its brain. Our buildings carry so much information about how they are used and we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of the possibilities of what we can do with that data. It’s time to bring our buildings alive!

For many years, we’ve relied on our own interpretations of our observations. As we walk around a building, we may notice that our co-worker, Johnny, doesn’t come into the office very often even though he has his own corner office. We may get annoyed when we go to book a conference room but everything is taken – though they all appear empty most of the time. The frustration is real when you drag yourself out of bed at 6am to hit the hotel gym only to find all three machines are taken. What if we could improve that visibility and get the most accurate data possible?

Bringing your buildings alive

As we saw in the Kone video, it is possible for our buildings to either interrupt or improve the flow of our days. The applications span far beyond elevators and doors. Sensors can be infused in ice cream coolers, coffee machines, bathrooms, conference rooms, parking lots, and much more. Using the ice cream cooler as an example, consider the impact on a retailer if their ice cream cooler goes down on a hot day in July. That’s going to be a bad day for that retailer. But had they used IoT sensors and capabilities, this breakdown could have been predicted and prevented. In essence, we want our buildings to speak to us and the technology exists to make this possible.

“My sole focus is to bring your buildings alive” – John Smart, Program Director, Cognitive Building & Retail Solutions, IBM

Voice is the next big thing for smart buildings

“What if your building could listen and respond to your needs and wants? Voice is the next big thing in smart buildings.”  – John Smart, Program Director, Cognitive Building & Retail Solutions, IBM

Not only can our buildings talk to us, but we will also be able to talk to our buildings. Using the power of voice, we develop a whole new set of experiences for the employee. Imagine if you need a whiteboard for your meeting. You will be able to simply ask for it, your voice will be captured, and a service request is automatically generated.

Putting Watson in the walls

To fully optimize the capabilities of Watson, he really needs a place to stay. Since you will be optimizing your unused space, the only place left will be the walls. When we say Watson in the walls, we’re not talking about a new blockbuster hit, but rather the partnership we are working on with HARMAN.  IBM is working with Harman on My Personal Concierge, powered by Watson assistant. This is intended to optimize hotel stays and follow you wherever you are on your journey. Need to check if that elliptical in the gym is free without walking down? Check. Ran out of towels? Watson has your back.  Want to make a reservation for dinner at 7pm at the hotel lounge? No problem.

Update room vacancies in real-time

We’ve all been there. We need a conference room but everything is booked. We’re also all guilty of booking a conference room and then not needing it or using it. Do we take the time to cancel the room reservation? If you do, you’re a better person than I am. Most often, there is just a big discrepancy between what rooms are on hold and which are actually being used.

Watson Workplace Concierge can help update room vacancies in real-time. It uses the power of the device and the power of the IoT with little needed involvement by the employee. If you don’t show up to the room, you will get a notification on your phone asking if you still need the room. If you say no, it will automatically unlock the room for others to use. Similarly, if you leave a room mid-way through your reservation, Watson will ask if your meeting is complete and will free up the room.

Space occupancy tracking saves major headaches

The world of commercial real estate is very complex. There is a vast amount of space. In fact, there is 12B square feet in the U.S. alone; but only 67 percent is utilized.  How do we address this gap?

According to Susan Chace from Fidelity, having a strong space assessment depends on mobile tools and the ability to compare physical space to space information with TRIRIGA and make real-time updates as you walk the floor. Just walking around the building and observing is not enough and it is not accurate. Space needs can change daily and having technology in place to capture those changes can make all the difference in whether your space allocations are accurate.

Are you bringing your buildings to life?

The ability to capture key information from our buildings and use that data to optimize customer experiences, employee engagement, and your bottom line are very real. It was a hot topic at TRIMax this year and I look forward to seeing where 2018 will take us.

Don’t forget to catch up on all the activities you missed at TRIMax this year.

To see what others are doing with smart buildings, visit our buildings zone and facilities management hub.

To learn more about IBM TRIRIGA, visit the IBM Marketplace.