A collaboration of Canadian companies led by Toronto’s WZMH Architects has developed an award-winning prefabricated panel that could make buildings smarter and more efficient. The prefab Intelligent Structural Panels are made of two steel plates, just two inches apart, that sandwich connective tech and are arranged something like an enlarged microchip. Lighting, HVAC, elevators, security systems, fire safety systems, and all manner of sensors can be plugged into the panels, which, as the name suggests, would serve as a structural element—likely flooring—in the building process. The panels can be connected with one another, and the designers envision that the various parts all seamlessly communicate; sensors that determine occupancy and temperature could pass their data along to climate control or lighting systems, for example. Carrying both data and electricity via power-over-ethernet connections, as well as using low-voltage DC power, the panels are far less electricity-intensive than most current building systems and would do away with the need for numerous transformers demanded by AC power. Not only simplifying network and electric connectivity, WZMH estimates that the smart panels could bring the total amount of building materials down by approximately 10 percent. WZMH also believes that the panels could take advantage of the energy that would otherwise be wasted and feed it gradually into other systems, such as heating and cooling. The IoT-ready panels would be managed by building users through an app. While still in the prototype stage, the Intelligent Structural Panels are already getting noticed. In 2018, WZMH won the UPPlift True Disruptor Award from the France Canada Chamber of Commerce, and in 2019 won the 2019 Award of Excellence from the Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards for the project. WZMH research and development head Hiram Boujaoude was also nominated as an Innovator of the Year at Autodesk’s AEC Excellence Awards.
Posts tagged with "Internet of Things (IoT)":
Buildstream is a construction startup leveraging data and internet-of-things (IoT) technology to improve the utilization and efficiency of heavy equipment. Started by a team of developers, engineers, and experts from the construction industry, Buildstream has developed hardware and software to empower contractors with precise, real-time information about equipment location and operation. Buildstream uses a custom algorithm to detect equipment operation data gathered from existing OEM systems or their own off-the-shelf IoT hardware. Whether a user owns or rents their equipment, they can gauge performance, track costs, maintenance, and availability, and make better-informed decisions to improve efficiency. This information links to a central dashboard that can be monitored anywhere across the supply chain, on-site or in the office. This proprietary software can also integrate with existing project management software and other tools, connecting everyone involved with a project. In addition to saving time and money, this equipment could also potentially help reduce the environmental impact of the construction industry; better planning and increased efficiency mean diesel-powered machines will burn less fuel than they might otherwise. Making heavy equipment a little smarter is the first step toward embracing the broader changes that may come as the construction industry embraces automation. "Our vision is to become the industry's standard equipment management platform, whether that's autonomous or man-operated equipment," said David Polanski, chief operating officer of Buildstream. "We believe that in order for automation to have real positive impact on the way we run construction projects, we need to have better control of the data that already exists today and have the right systems in place that allow us to learn from it. This is exactly what BuildStream is built for." In addition to improving efficiency, most contractors believe IoT technology will increase job site safety, protect investments, and reduce risk. In fact, according to a recent report by Dodge Data & Analytics, the top motivator for adopting new technology isn't increased efficiency, but lower insurance premiums. The report also notes that there may be challenges to the emerging industry, as few contractors budget for technology, choosing to instead absorb the costs or pass them along to the client. However, as data increases with adoption, so too will the benefits. "When [contractors] see something that will improve their projects and their profitability, they embrace it," said Steve Jones, Senior Director of Industry Insights Research at Dodge Data & Analytics. "Their enthusiasm for IoT technologies suggests that we may see the project job site become much smarter in the next few years."
Bleutech Park Las Vegas is being pitched as the first digital infrastructure city of its kind in the world, and (paradoxically) the latest in a line of "smart cities" worldwide. Announced by real estate investment trust Bleutech Park Properties, the park will be a "digital revolution" meant to redefine the infrastructure industry and will allegedly feature autonomous vehicles, renewable energies, AI, "supertrees," self-healing concrete structures, and more. The project is expected to break ground in December in the Las Vegas Valley and take six years to complete, although many of the technologies being proposed are still in their infancy. The buildings will be equipped with self-healing, energy-generating, and breathable materials and, according to Bluetech, the construction site will become a “living, breathing blueprint”. The flooring systems will capture and reuse the energy produced by human movement throughout common areas and parking structures. Bleutech Park buildings will also connect to a network of “supertrees”, allowing a 95 percent reduction in imported water consumption and an opportunity to improve biodiversity. All building facades will feature photovoltaic glass, a technology that converts light into electricity, turning entire exteriors into single solar panels. The company will also use what it's calling "aerial construction" to build the development, including the use of drones for navigating dangerous portions of the construction site. The mixed-used mini-city aims at tackling issues like affordable housing through “Workforce Housing”, a reciprocal act of service for those that serve the community, including nurses, police officers, teachers, firemen, and more. This unique approach is a foundation of Bleutech’s overall vision and ensures economic, cultural, and health benefits to people of all income levels in Las Vegas. Additional program includes offices, retail space, luxury housing, hotels and entertainment venues that will showcase energy generation and storage, waste-heat recovery, water purification, waste treatment, and localized air cleaning. City spokesman Jace Radke told Smart Cuties Dive that the project is not within Las Vegas's jurisdiction and is not affiliated with the city. Bleutech Park’s partners on the project are Cisco, construction contractor Martin-Harris Construction, Las Vegas real estate developer Khusrow Roohani, and the Las Vegas Laborers Union Local 872 with a promise to create more than 25,000 jobs in construction. The project is similar to other privately-funded smart city tech test sites, like the Sidewalk Labs Quayside project in Toronto and Blockchains LLC’s plans to build a 60,000-ace city near Reno.
Construction remains one of the most dangerous careers in the United States. To stop accidents before they happen, construction companies are turning to emerging technologies to improve workplace safety—from virtual reality, drone photography, IoT-connected tools, and machine learning. That said, some solutions come with the looming specter of workplace surveillance in the name of safety, with all of the Black Mirror-esque possibilities. The Boston-based construction company Suffolk has turned to artificial intelligence to try and make construction safer. Suffolk has been collaborating with computer vision company Smartvid.io to create a digital watchdog of sorts that uses a deep-learning algorithm and workplace images to flag dangerous situations and workers engaging in hazardous behavior, like failing to wear safety equipment or working too close to machinery. Suffolk’s even managed to get some of their smaller competitors to join them in data sharing, a mutually beneficial arrangement since machine learning systems require so much example data; something that's harder for smaller operations to gather. Suffolk hopes to use this decade’s worth of aggregated information, as well as scheduling data, reports, and info from IoT sensors to create predictive algorithms that will help prevent injuries and accidents before they happen and increase productivity. Newer startups are also entering the AEC AI fray, including three supported by URBAN-X. The bi-coastal Versatile Natures is billing itself as the "world's first onsite data-provider," aiming to transform construction sites with sensors that allow managers to proactively make decisions. Buildstream is embedding equipment and construction machinery to make them communicative, and, by focusing on people instead, Contextere is claiming that their use of the IoT will connect different members of the workforce. At the Florida-based firm Haskell, instead of just using surveillance on the job site, they’re addressing the problem before construction workers even get into the field. While videos and quizzes are one way to train employees, Haskell saw the potential for interactive technologies to really boost employee training in a safe context, using virtual reality. In the search for VR systems that might suit their needs, Haskell discovered no extant solutions were well-suited to the particulars of construction. Along with their venture capital spinoff, Dysruptek, they partnered with software engineering and game design students at Kennesaw State University in Georgia to develop the Hazard Elimination/Risk Oversight program, or HERO, relying on software like Revit and Unity. The video game-like program places users into a job site, derived from images taken by drone and 360-degree cameras at a Florida wastewater treatment plant that Haskell built, and evaluates a trainee’s performance and ability to follow safety protocols in an ever-changing environment. At the Skanska USA, where 360-degree photography, laser scanning, drones, and even virtual reality are becoming increasingly commonplace, employees are realizing the potentials of these new technologies not just for improved efficiency and accuracy in design and construction, but for overall job site safety. Albert Zulps, Skanska’s Regional Director, Virtual Design and Construction, says that the tech goes beyond BIM and design uses, and actively helps avoid accidents. “Having models and being able to plan virtually and communicate is really important,” Zulps explained, noting that in AEC industries, BIM and models are now pretty much universally trusted, but the increased accuracy of capture technologies is making them even more accurate—adapting them to not just predictions, but the realities of the site. “For safety, you can use those models to really clearly plan your daily tasks. You build virtually before you actually build, and then foresee some of the things you might not have if you didn't have that luxury.” Like Suffolk, Skanska has partnered with Smartvid.io to help them process data. As technology continues to evolve, the ever-growing construction industry will hopefully be not just more cost-efficient, but safer overall.
Design kitchens that respond in real time with new digital appliances and plumbing. With the help of smart home systems like Alexa and Google Home, the following appliances and electronics make the kitchen more responsive and powerful than ever.
Integrated Column Freezer and Refrigerator Fisher & Paykel Fisher & Paykel’s new family-size column freezer and refrigerator can be installed separately or together, and can be variably configured. The ideal temperature is set for three food zones: freeze, -7 degrees Fahrenheit to 7 degrees Fahrenheit; soft freeze, 14 degrees Fahrenheit to 18 degrees Fahrenheit; and deep freeze, -13 degrees Fahrenheit.
Smart Oven+ Kitchenaid Smart Oven+ is designed with interchangeable cooking attachments that plug directly into a hub inside. Including a grill, steamer, baking stone, and base heating pan, the oven also has an LED illuminated touch screen that directs the user to the right attachment to employ based on cooking instructions in the platform.
TKO Touch Faucet Lenova Sinks Grubby hands? Tap and wash with a faucet that turns on with a touch of your wrist or forearm. Don’t worry about burning yourself; LED lights will indicate the temperature. And, when you’re through, integrated sensors will automatically shut off the flow.
48-Inch Pro-Harmony Standard Depth Gas Range Thermador Pro-Harmony comes equipped with Thermador’s new app that pairs the oven with other appliances like the ventilation hood, as well as digital recipes that sync with automatic settings. For easy cleanup, the stovetop features a base where a hand and sponge can easily fit under each burner.
These smart home security systems allow you to monitor your home from anywhere. With added features like an emergency response system and digital keys that provide guest access, these devices do more than just monitor your home; they help you to actively secure it. Mesh Network Motion Sensor XANDEM Weave an invisible, motion-sensing web with Xandem’s small radio devices. The wireless mesh technology works through walls and furniture to detect motion and pinpoint it to an exact location. Security Light Arlo Create automated lighting schemes with this wire-free smart light. Using the Arlo app, users can turn the light on and off. For added security, notifications are sent to your phone or email when it detects motion. Motion Sensor Kangaroo This camera-free, microphone-free wireless motion sensor detects household disturbances and sends alerts directly to your smartphone. The peel-and-stick hub is easy to install and connects seamlessly to your home Wi-Fi network. Smart Video Doorbell Netatmo Netatmo’s new smart video doorbell allows you to remotely see who’s at the door and to open it. You won’t miss any visitor or packages thanks to the video call delivered to your smartphone in real time. The app allows you to view past calls and events, as well as download videos that might be of interest. Smart Lock August Lock and unlock your door from anywhere. This smart lock attaches directly to your existing deadbolt on the inside of your door, so you can still use your keys. With the August app, you can give digital keys to guests from your phone. View Outdoor Camera Hive Hive’s new outdoor security camera live streams in 1080p HD to your smartphone. The camera automatically detects motion, sounds, and people with its built-in sensors and microphone. Notifications come with an image of the person detected, so you can see what’s happening day or night.
Smart City Expo World Congress, held this year in Barcelona, is an annual architectural, engineering, and technology exhibition dedicated to creating a better future for cities worldwide through social collaboration and urban innovation. Among the projects that were unveiled at this November's event was CityIQ’s proposal to install 4,200 sensor nodes throughout San Diego, California, a major tech hub whose goal is to decrease its carbon emissions and energy use in order to fight climate change. The CityIQ nodes, which are part of an elaborate internet of things (IoT) project, will be coupled with new smart city apps to improve the city’s parking, traffic, and streetlight efficiency by an estimated 20 percent. CityIQ is already cooperating with multiple departments within San Diego, including the police department, San Diego Gas & Electric, and the Traffic and Engineering and Operations unit. The company's IoT project involves embedding sensors and software into the streets of the San Diego in order to collect and exchange data, and just last week, the city agreed to install 1,000 more nodes than originally planned. The new data that will be accumulated by the nodes can support a wide variety of innovative apps, including Genetec, which facilitates real-time emergency response, Xaqt, which displays the latest traffic patterns, CivicSmart, a smart parking app, and ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection app that can locate the scene of the shooter in less than a minute. The city is also working toward bringing a state-of-the-art Lightgrid system onto the streets, whose immediate data collection and connectivity will provide the city with a better understanding of streetlight usage, and it is expected to save the city over $250,000 in energy costs. “Our ability to leapfrog our smart cities technology ahead in both energy savings and scale is a testament to the hard work and ongoing collaboration of many public and private stakeholders,” said San Diego’s interim deputy chief operating officer Erik Caldwell in a statement. “We are proud of our progress so far in building a solution that will stand in the test of time and enhance our citizens’ quality of life.”
Smart Cities New York (SCNY) is North America’s leading global conference exploring the emerging influence of cities in shaping the future. With the global smart city market expected to grow to $1.6 trillion within the next three years, Smart Cities New York is guided by the idea that smart cities are truly "Powered by People". The conference brings together thought leaders from public and private sectors, academia and NGOs to discuss investments in physical and digital infrastructure, health, education, sustainability, security, mobility, workforce development, and more, to ensure cities are central to advancing and improving urban life in the 21st century and beyond.
Meet the incubators and accelerators producing the new guard of design and architecture start-ups. This is part of a series profiling incubators and accelerators from our April 2018 Technology issue. With a cutting-edge client list that includes Nike, Google, and YouTube, digital agency R/GA is committed to staying way, way ahead of the competition. So, when it came to the rapid rise of start-ups and disruptive technologies, R/GA was quick to jump in. “We knew we would need a platform for innovation, even if we didn’t always know which forms of innovation would ultimately take off,” explained Stephen Plumlee, global chief operating officer of R/GA and founding partner of R/GA Venture Studio, a division of the company. “In order to find more and better innovations, solve problems for our clients, and offer new opportunities to our staff, we needed to get deeper into technology and start-ups.” R/GA Venture Studio partnered with the mentorship-focused start-up accelerator Techstars and launched theR/GA Venture Studio program four years ago. The accelerator offers approximately ten-week-long thematic programs with R/GA, sharing its creative capital in terms of marketing, business strategy, branding, design, and technology; partners invest in each start-up and retain approximately 4 to 8 percent of their equities. R/GA also plays matchmaker, strategically partnering clients that have particular problems with start-ups that have potential solutions. Recent programs yielded a media technology initiative with Verizon and a collaboration with the Los Angeles Dodgers; an Internet of Things and connected devices program in R/GA’s London office has proved to be immensely popular. “We are constantly experimenting with our own program and have evolved beyond the traditional accelerator format into something unique to us,” said Plumlee. One of the things that set the R/GA Venture Studio apart is the age of the start-ups accepted into the program. Rather than limit applicants to new ventures, R/GA will accept older start-ups that are more established and have completed as late as Series B funding rounds. It is also not tied to any one location—R/GA Venture Studio spaces are available in any R/GA office—allowing start-ups to continue business as usual beyond Demo Day and other important mentoring events. To avoid being boxed in and missing potential opportunities, R/GA will also accept applicants year-round for various programs—currently it has four running simultaneously. Within this ethos of avoiding constraints, the accelerator’s start-ups and programs have varied widely and have included blockchain, pet care, smart home technologies, wearable devices, and ad tech, to name a few. Notable alumni include: Keen Home A smart vent system that allows homeowners to create climate zones throughout their houses. Clarifai Clarifai is an artificial intelligence company that empowers businesses and developers to solve real-world problems using visual recognition. LISNR A software that connects devices to speakers and/or microphones by sending data over audio waves.
In a 2016 broadcast of NPR’s Fresh Air, author and cultural anthropologist Gretchen Bakke characterized America’s energy grid as “increasingly unstable, underfunded, and incapable of taking us to a new energy future.” Nevertheless, the steady march toward progress continues, and the threat of obsolescence is driving many cities, urban planners, developers, and businesses to invest in the future. “We happen to be at a moment in time where people are starting to fear that technological obsolescence in the workplace and in cities is a pretty tough place to be and has some real consequences economically for the buildings and the cities that don’t have high-speed networking or don’t have modern energy,” observed Brian Lakamp, founder and CEO of Totem Power. “That’s why you’re seeing city planners, mayors, and businesses get more aggressive about deploying built environment technology than they ever have been, as far as I can tell.” (Note: Some states, such as California, have already passed legislation requiring new buildings to be outfitted with electric vehicle charging ports.) Identifying significant shifts in transportation, communication, and energy, Lakamp saw an opportunity to solve a problem that innovation imposes on our aging buildings. For example, as millions of electric vehicles begin to flood the market in the years ahead, a major investment in infrastructure will be required to support them. Similarly, as buildings are rewired with higher-gauge electrical cabling to accommodate new energy and communications networks, it’s clear that smarter, more flexible solutions are required to meet these ever-increasing demands. “With the coming of 5G and some of the IoT technologies, electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles, there’s a lot that is emerging that needs to change in terms of the way communications networks work and new technology is presented that gets really exciting,” Lakamp said. “We’re here as a way to deploy that infrastructure in the built environment in a way that can be made beautiful and impactful.” To that end, Lakamp launched Totem, a groundbreaking energy solution that reimagines and redesigns smart utility. The Totem platform combines solar energy and energy storage, WiFi and 4G communications, electric vehicle charging, and smart lighting into a single, powerful product that weaves these capabilities directly into the built environment.
How It WorksTotem is, at its core, a vertical server rack that’s designed to support evolution in technology over time. Its base product deploys over 40 kWh of energy storage that serves as a grid asset and dynamic energy foundation that ensures energy quality and provides critical resilience in the event of broader grid issues. Integrated solar generation, electric vehicle charging, and LED lighting add further capability to each Totem and sophistication to each property’s energy assets. Totem also provides a reliable hub for Wi-Fi, 4G, and 5G cellular services to bring high-speed connectivity to properties and communities. Through its modern connectivity platform, it also presents a key communications gateway for IoT devices on and around properties. According to a statement from Jeffrey Kenoff, director at architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, “Totem is one of the first to unite design, infrastructure, and community in a single as well as exquisite platform. It’s hard to imagine a major project or public space that it would not transform.”
Smart city technology is a burgeoning but embryonic field: Kansas City has its "Living Lab," New York City has its LinkNYC, and Toronto may get an entire Sidewalk Labs–developed smart city tech testing ground—and that's just to name a few. While each project is different, many involve using a network of sensors, wi-fi stations, and smartphone apps to better connect residents (and tourists) with local businesses, events, and public transportation. Now, Austin is joining this cadre of smart city testers. Austin CityUP Consortium—an alliance of businesses, government agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations—is behind the Smart 2nd Street Living Lab, an effort to bring a similar smart city network to five blocks of Austin's 2nd Street. (The Lab will extend from Guadalupe Street to Trinity Street on 2nd Street, to be exact.) This system will, according to the Consortium, "collect [and] analyze data such as: pedestrian, traffic, sound, air quality, video, and more to determine safety, quality of life, and other needs." Helping to power this undertaking will be Connecthings, a French company that has already implemented similar technology in European cities such as Lyon and Barcelona, and even farther afield in Rio de Janeiro. How does it work? Generally, it goes like this: many already-existing apps benefit from knowing your location. If they know where you are, the apps can show you geographically-relevant information on local events, transit notifications, security alerts, etc. That's what Connecthings does: it deploys small battery-driven sensors and software that ensures location-specific information gets to the relevant apps on your phone. In the case of Austin, Connecthings is just providing elements of the software while BlueCats is deploying the beacons. Additionally, the Austin test won't initially involve apps—instead, when users with Bluetooh and Chrome approach certain bus stations, they will receive the option (in their notifications/widget panel) to connect to a location-specific URL. Selecting that URL will provide real-time bus schedules for that stop. This feature will be operational as soon as the sensors are installed in September. Down the line, as early as October, other apps will enable the project's full range of "use cases," which includes the ability to find open parking spots, locate alternative transportation options (e.g. ride-shares, public bicycles, taxis), receive wayfinding assistance, or learn about pop-ups and public art. Additionally, the city can use the sensors to record the street's environmental conditions and learn how people are using the streetscape itself. “Austin embraces new technologies that empower its citizens and visitors to get access to real-time information—hence facilitate daily life in helping navigating transportation services,” said Laetitia Gazel Anthoine, CEO and founder of Connecthings. “AustinCityUP is Austin’s key innovation enabler that fosters partnerships and helps make an impact in the city, right away.” If successful, according to the Consortium, this network could extend beyond 2nd Street.
The once-prosaic thermostat has become a high profile design object as of late. As a critical gateway for the "Internet of Things" and the world of the connected home, it's increasingly seen as an HVAC status symbol. With his new scheme for the Hive for British Gas, Yves Béhar takes a step back from the fray and focuses on the unit's ease of use. Compared to the first learning thermostat, Nest, and its smart-home spawn, Hive takes a low-key approach to aesthetics—but does so via some fairly fancy interface technology. Until it is touched, the face of the unit remains a blank, mirror-like surface. Changeable frames for the Hive (above) work to bring the user into the experience and put them in control of the device—not vice versa. Nest's hardware and interface are resolutely minimalist—indisputably a factor in its success in the marketplace (it's estimated that 10,000 units are sold every day)—but graphically, it's more heavy-handed and generic. The Ecobee3 wi-fi thermostat features remote mini-monitors that track the temperature in more than one room of the house. Occupancy sensors help save energy and reduce operating costs. The device's rounded corners and a cutesy insect icon convey an emphasis less on science and more on everyday accessibility. From the originator of the original Round thermostat (which was designed by Henry Dreyfuss), the Lyric has geofencing capability, which enables the device to adjust automatically, based on the location of the user's smartphone. By inverting the dome profile of Dreyfuss' 1953 icon, the design pays homage to a classic while supporting today's technology.