It’s easy to bat around the term “Internet of Things.” But until you’re in a room full of interface designers trying to make the implied thousands and thousands of connections visible and manageable—you don’t appreciate what it means. I came to this realization while attending the 3-day DGLux5 Introductory training course last week near San Francisco. It’s also now clear why the DGLogik brand mascot is a futuristic space-traveler: the DGLux5 users in that room were well on their way to defining how building operations will be accomplished tomorrow.
This training session attracted a representative cross-section of the buildings industry from energy consultants, to lighting control application developers, to HVAC specialists and system integrators of all levels. Some were brand new to the DGLux platform and others were making the transition from the previous version of the software to new DGLux5. Led by Arthur Alter, DGLogik VP of Business Development, the class covered fundamental design tools and the intelligent elements that make it possible to quickly filter data flows from disparate system sources and deliver a desired result to the end user’s phone, tablet or desktop screens.
I can attest that the platform can make interacting with a smart building’s vast data resources push-button simple, having seen some of my classmates’ existing projects. However, delivering this simplicity to the customer requires a non-trivial level of skill and aptitude on the part of the dashboard designer/application developer. Others in the room came to class with years of experience in HVAC, lighting, security, energy and, in some cases, ‘all of the above,’ and they also seemed to be masters of the IT concepts that underlie spreadsheets, system management directories and computer graphics. The DGLux development projects demo’ed for me were designed to pull real-time data from hundreds of VAV boxes, multiple air handlers, as well as other building resources such as physical access systems. Manipulating all those streams is inevitably complex. DGLux mitigates this complexity through its own graphical user interface that spares developers the need to write and render lines of code. Whether you are building a data flow diagram or a digital replica of an air handler, you can complete most actions by selecting elements from libraries and folders, dragging them onto the design stage and dropping them into place. Intelligent elements and concepts, such as Bindings, Repeaters and Relativization are indispensable when dealing with such large data sets because they make bulk actions possible.
The concept of an ‘IoT Visualization Platform,’ as DGLux is described, is a recent innovation. You can understand its fast adoption by considering an earlier visualization platform category—Electronic Design Automation (EDA). EDA emerged when the components and wires that comprised chip designs became so small and numerous that electronics designers could only do their work via Computer-Aided Design (CAD) graphics systems. It was adapt or change professions — the trend toward miniaturization would never reverse. Similarly, the number of smart devices in a building and their complex interdependencies is growing beyond the capacity of human operators to keep in mind. So we’re extending our capacity to visualize with 3D graphics. Here too, there will be no going backwards. The type of real-time data-driven imagery that a DGLux interface delivers is becoming essential to managing the complexities of building operations. Building automation and controls companies that understand this new reality are investing now in the skills needed to create and maintain DGLux dashboards and applications for their customers.
Over my 3 Days of hands-on training, I definitely got the ‘Why’ of DGLux. And, I even gained skill at the ‘How,’ despite the fact that it was a first-time experience. I was more than inspired by others in class that already had their HVAC monitoring, energy analysis, load shedding and other projects in the field improving building comfort and performance, while saving time and money. By necessity, the class moved at a very fast clip, as there were so many product features to cover. Importantly, I found the challenge of the HTML5 interface not insurmountable, but rather fun. It’s a good thing, because I predict that just about everyone in the controls industry is going to need to be familiar with this technology sooner rather than later.