In the following interview, Dr. Sonja Meyer, project manager for smart office applications at Bosch Software Innovations, discusses trends in smart office solutions, their potential and the challenges they pose. She explains how IoT technology will change buildings and the way users collaborate.
Your job has a lot to do with IoT applications in business buildings. Why will tomorrow’s buildings be connected and what opportunities do connected buildings offer?
Sonja Meyer A connected building can help us make the processes inside it more efficient, sustainable and healthier. Ultimately, it means that buildings can be put to better use – not only by employees, but also by facility managers and building owners.
IoT technology can serve to improve and make legacy processes more efficient. What’s more – and this is the crux of it – this tech can help us create unprecedented processes that deliver new added value. Take, for example, a smart office application: Motion sensors provide us with information about workplace use. Employees are alerted directly to unoccupied spots to save space by using what’s available more efficiently.
The working world is changing. The IoT is already deployed in buildings and has given rise to a new type of workplace – the smart office. We would like to know where we stand today and where this journey will take us.
Dr. Sonja Meyer is project manager for smart office applications at Bosch Software Innovations. Together with her team, she deals not only with the topic of smart offices, but also with commercial buildings in general. The goal is to offer a standard interface for storing sensor data of all kinds.
Sonja Meyer Today we can understand the building. In other words, we measure and assess buildings’ sensor data. This is just a first stage of an evolution. In the next evolutionary stage, we want the building to understand us. That means understanding users and the way they work, and supporting their deliberations and giving advice when they make decisions.
We are also going to be able to map use cases across domains. The focus will not be limited to building use; we will also be accompanying users in their day-to-day working life. Here’s an example: Say I’m going to work by car. Once I get there, I am guided to the nearest available parking space and get briefed on who I’m to meet today and where these meetings are to take place. And I know what room my customer happens to be in.
I also believe that there will be no separation between smart cities and connected buildings; instead, these areas will gradually converge across domains.
What challenges will we have to master in connected buildings?
Sonja Meyer Diversity is a big challenge. By that I mean the diversity of hardware, radio technologies and protocols that support hardware. We have to be able to use different protocols to talk to hardware. There is an incredible number of protocols, especially in buildings. It would be enormously expensive to support all of them. Radio technology also offers a wide range of possibilities. That’s why it is best to start out by concentrating on just a few areas.
What projects are you working on now and what insights have you gained from your projects?
Sonja Meyer We’re working on various projects with Bosch and external partners. One is a joint project with Zumtobel where everything revolves around a smart free-standing floor luminaire. Equipped with various sensors, this luminaire gauges air quality, noise levels and other things in open-plan offices. A dashboard tells users if the air quality is good or bad so they can open a window for ventilation or adjust the heating; in other words, so they can react to relevant data.