ambient intelligence

TeleSense – IoT for the Smart Building

Internet of Things technology in commercial real estate opens up a world of possibilities for improving occupant experience, reducing energy costs and managing building equipment, three areas with the potential to impact returns on real estate assets.  Large players such as Intel and new startups are working on solutions that put the Internet of Things to work for commercial real estate.  This morning I caught up with one of the players in this race to create real value in real estate IoT, Naeem Zafar, Co-Founder & CEO of Adolene, Inc.  Zafar’s growing team is creating a smart building retrofit solution called TeleSense.

Naeem Zafar, Co-Founder & CEO of Adelene, Inc. showcasing one of the TeleSense products at Plug and Play Technology Center April 22, 2015

Naeem Zafar, Co-Founder & CEO of Adelene, Inc. showcasing one of the TeleSense products at Plug and Play Technology Center April 22, 2015

TeleSense focuses on solving three problems in commercial buildings.  First, TeleSense is able to remotely sense temperature, humidity and air quality thus enabling building managers to make decisions that can improve the occupant experience.  Second, TeleSense monitors energy use & consumption.  By combining the monitored data with weather data, energy demand pricing, occupancy and building energy demand TeleSense is able to reduce overall energy consumption as well as reduce energy consumption when energy costs are higher.  Third, TeleSense uses vibration, temperature and sound or acoustics to predict the failure of building equipment, thus migrating from preventative to predictive maintenance.

“The future of the smart building is huge,” said Zafar.  “It’s all about gathering data easily and creating a real brain to actuate based on the data in real time,” he explained.

Ambient IQ : Intelligence Anywhere & Everywhere

Can things around us really be intelligent?  Can they learn our habits and make our lives easier by doing things automatically for us?  Can the information be turned into actionable insight that if followed will save people time and money?  The answer is a conditional yes.

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The VLAB Ambient IQ event March 18, 2014 brought together entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the field of ambient intelligence.  These people work to solve challenging problems associated with understanding our behavior within our environment.  They work to understand how to make decisions with regards to multiple facets of our lives based on intelligence created by aggregating information from multiple sensors.  This is no easy task.

Some of the solutions that were discussed are absolutely intriguing.  I’m going to touch on a few of them, which will lay a strong argument to answer a strong yes to the questions above.  But don’t worry, I’ll wrap it up with a good explanation for my conditional yes position.

First, let’s take a look at Automatic which produces a device that connects your car and smart phone.  Automatic allows you to understand how you are driving and make better driving decisions that improve fuel economy.  It helps you keep your vehicle well maintained.  It remembers where you parked.  It even notifies authorities if the vehicle is involved in a collision.  I want to try it out.

Electric Imp allows you to connect many devices to the internet via a cloud service and hardware platform.  Turning on or off power to devices via a mobile phone and knowing how many eggs are in the fridge are some of the things that become possible with Imp-enabled devices.  The applications of a platform such as this are essentially limitless, particularly because the platform serves as an enabler.  For example, the platform can enable a connection between Automatic and an Imp-connected power strip.  You drive home at night and your Automatic-connected car lets your Electric Imp connected lamp know to turn on the light in the dark living room.  Electric Imp is promising technology that can make life easier.

The conditional yes above, though, comes because the technology is not easy enough to use yet.  Sure there are many cool things that ambient IQ can become, but the solutions are not fully integrated and they are not easy for the average consumer to use.  Knowing ahead of time that Automatic would be at the event, I decided to test out the Bluetooth connection from my iPhone to the car I purchased last month.  I ran into trouble because while whoever I called with the car could hear me, I could not hear them.  I gave up troubleshooting after a few minutes because of other obligations plus I know that between now and the time I figure it out, my iPhone has other solutions that enable conversation while in motion.

It would take a person hours and a great deal of expertise and determination to connect a Wally home wireless sensor network, FitBit fitness monitor, Nest thermostat, WeMo switch, Lockitron locks, Automatic enabled car, Hiku shopping scanner and Iro sprinkler system.  Along the way they would run into bumps similar to my Bluetooth phone issue.  But, early adopters are persistent and will pave the way for people to benefit from these technologies in the future.  If you think this is a far-fetched idea, think back a decade to the process of setting up a home computer network.  It was a challenge and nearly impossible for the average Joe.  Now, however, even the computer illiterate can go to Fry’s, pick up a wireless router, and have the internet connected to their wireless devices in a matter of minutes.  The user interfaces are simpler.  The instructions are clearer (with nice pictures).  The process is easier for the consumer.

Over the next decade it is obvious that advances will be made with connected devices and that ambient IQ will increase.  These will help change my conditional yes to a yes.  Solutions that are easier for the consumer will make my conditional yes an absolute yes.  I would love to try to connect every internet enabled device on the market and work to make the process easy for the user, the consumer, the person, the friend or the family member who benefits when their life is just a little bit easier.