If you met Dell/Intel in June at the IB-Con conference in Las Vegas, you would know that the duo is interested in helping their OEM customers develop IoT solutions for building automation projects. Last week’s announcement of the opening of a jointly funded IoT Lab in Santa Clara was the next milestone on that path. It’s hoped that the IoT Lab will attract a wide range of customers beyond smart building innovators, of course, ranging from the embedded to telecommunications industries. However, the tie to the June Dell/Intel smart buildings campaign was the lead example mentioned in the announcement. I’ve been chronicling the Intel Smart Building campaign here.
In a June 2014 whitepaper, Dell asked readers to “imagine the next generation of integrated, open-architected, IP-centric, connected, high-performance, sustainable, energy-efficient, operationally efficient, and intelligent buildings.” For those not inclined to day-dreaming, the DOE has funded projects exploring open-source, open architecture Building Automation Systems for small-to-medium sized commercial buildings. Papers and presentations describing projects by top UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon University and Virginia Tech building scientists are available via the OpenBAS workshop website. If you read the overview on the OpenBAS.org site, you’ll learn their ideas about smart building development projects suitable for the new IoT Lab:
With only few exceptions, the fundamental building blocks (e.g. the hardware, devices, components, etc.) necessary to develop a cost-effective controls solution for small- and medium- sized commercial buildings actually exist today but are not suitable for deployment into the small and medium sized building sector. We envision that an open source architecture software solution and associated components will encourage vendors to develop hardware solutions that are compatible, standard and plug-n-play to maximize the automation capabilities of the small- and medium-sized buildings portfolio.
From a UC Berkeley paper on its open software-architecture for a software-defined building: The Internet of Things has direct application for the current state of building controls:
Third-party developers are essential for the innovation and specialization in the applications needed to operate the diverse equipment in buildings and respond to constantly changing requirements. These developers can easily add their own tools to the top [application] layer, which could include specialized user interfaces, new control algorithms, and fault detection algorithms. Third parties can also add new devices for sensing and actuating to the bottom physical layer.
Here’s hoping that Smart Building developers use this blueprint and take Dell/Intel up on their offer of a place staffed with highly skilled engineers and technicians to validate and test their IoT solutions on Dell hardware and software systems. To quote the OpenBAS workshop project again:
Buildings consume over 40% of the total energy consumption in the U.S. A significant portion of the energy consumed in buildings is wasted because of the lack of building controls or the inability to use existing Building Automation Systems (BAS) properly. Over 90% of the buildings in the U.S. are either small-sized (<5,000 square feet, or sf) or medium-sized (between 5,000 sf and 50,000 sf); these buildings typically do not use BAS to monitor and control their building systems from a central location. There are a number of reasons why small- and medium-sized buildings do not deploy BAS including lack of inexpensive packaged solutions.