Our buildings are talking, it’s about time we listened.

You know how people often say “If only these walls could talk..”? Well, their prayers just got answered, sort of. We’re talking about looking at buildings around you as living, breathing organisms. Walls, ceilings, doorknobs that can observe, and learn from, everything that’s happening around them. IBM’s Watson has been doing all kinds of awesome stuff around the Internet of Things (IoT), and their latest development speaks of buildings that can think for themselves.

Watson IoT for buildings

Watson IoT for buildings is a complete solution for smart buildings that allows you to capture data from sensors and devices and consolidate that information on a single cloud platform. Using cognitive computing, Watson generates recommendations for you that can be operationalized by your asset and facilities management software.

What is a cognitive building?

The people and assets in your building create an enormous amount of unstructured data. The challenge is using that information to make informed decisions about how to optimize the experience of building occupants, staff and management. Watson IoT can help you tap new sources of data and apply cognitive capabilities to help you flexibly adapt your space to changing needs.

What can IoT do for your building?

Your building would essentially have a brain of its own. Instead of nerves, there are myriad sensors deployed in walls, lights, heating and cooling equipment, even the faucet in a sink. Creating a structure’s consciousness is software that ties it all together. But these brains, like any brain really, don’t just blink on and immediately understand how to function in the world. Like any growing person, the “brains” in our roads, office buildings, homes and factories will need to be taught how to think, how to problem solve, how to arrive at smart decisions.

Digital Twinning

Some buildings today are built from the ground up with nearly one IoT-enabled sensor per square foot—monitoring temperature, humidity, how many people are in a room, etc. Managers can then “see” the building on a computer, in what’s known as a “digital twin.” This digital twin will then build a model of the world it inhabits. With a full picture of what’s going on inside their properties, owners don’t rely on guesswork and history to make decisions, but real, actionable data.

“Buildings will know the context of how space is being used and predict the kind of load that will be required—is it a Friday when many people work from home, does tomorrow’s weather mean there will be extra heating or cooling required?” says IBM Research’s Dr. Joern Ploennigs. With all the data collected, sensors could alert the building manager when something’s going to break before it goes – imagine the wonderful convenience!

  • A business might have a conference room with an occupancy rate of 95% during working hours. With usage that high, it’s very likely that people are being turned away when they need a room to meet. The conference room may hold 12 people, but the sensors say the average meeting has just three. Cognitive analytics will suggest installing a wall so that the room can serve more employees more efficiently.
  • Deloitte’s Edge building in Holland analyzes an employee’s calendar and reserves the needed desks accordingly. Someone may start with a collaboration space in the morning to work through the latest client presentation; then have the board room reserved for that big lunch all-hands; and then shift to a quiet reading space to catch up on the new report for a second client. With so much of our work documentation stored digitally, Eva Fors – CEO of sensor maker Yanzi, says the idea of an assigned, personal desk will soon be a thing of the past: “You take a seat based on what you’re actually going to do.”

Watch this video to learn about how IoT will transform the way we live, work and connect.

Find out more about IBM’s plans for the future of buildings here.

Anisha Sawant


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *