Tech Advances Congregate in Tomorrow’s Buildings

Latest sensors, lots of data, and AI teaming to make buildings smarter.

Spencer Chin, Senior Editor

June 27, 2024

2 Min Read
Johnson Controls' Vijay Sankaran
Vijay Sankaran of Johnson Controls talks smart buildings during a Sensors Converge keynote session.Spencer Chin

Despite back-to-work mandates, post-COVID work schedules have many employees in offices and other workplaces not in during parts of the week. The lack of uniformity in work schedules has left building operators scrambling to deal with empty offices, accounting for changes in HVAC and lighting, among other operating parameters. These trends have intensified the need for intelligent, or smart building management to efficiently allocate their operational resources and step up planning for an uncertain future.

During a keynote session at Sensors Converge earlier this week titled, “AI and Smart Buildings,” Vijay Sankaran, Chief Technology Officer of Johnson Controls, discussed the company’s efforts to use a multitude of technologies to make both current and future buildings smarter. “Buildings produce roughly 40% of global emissions,” Sankaran told the audience. “Global megatrends, including the drive to net zero emissions, buildings with cleaner air, and security needs are driving smart buildings.”

Toward this year, Johnson Controls developed a building controls smart platform called Open Blue which takes inputs from various sources and provides recommendations, using edge-based computing. “The biggest needs are efficiency and sustainability,” Sankaran said. He said to achieve net zero emissions were sometimes flawed because they lacked a sound baseline to let companies know where they stand.

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According to Sankaran, many root causes of energy issues lie in the fact that equipment is not set properly. To resolve these problems, he advocates effective sensor use to find faults, and AI to help interpret data and develop corrective measures.

The proper deployment of sensors is also crucial to achieve a sound security strategy, as the safety of both facility occupants and visitors is becoming of utmost concern in entertainment and sports venues as well as workplaces and schools.

Sankaran said an integrated platform such as Open Blue is essential to properly capturing and analyzing data to develop effective smart building measures that balance needs such as energy and security. AI is a central part of Open Blue, as it helps measure patterns and generate accurate usage predictions for building operating parameters. “Bringing all this data together with generative and predictive AI can be very powerful.”

For instance, Sankaran noted that AI is used to create a building utilization narrative dashboard that helps determine building occupancy patterns. He added that the Open Blue platform also considers worker safety to check compliance of different work sites.

Related:Hot Sensor Trends You Should Know

In addition, Sankaran said proper smart city planning should take into account local building codes and regulations that help optimize conservation measures and parameters for the locales they are in.

About the Author(s)

Spencer Chin

Senior Editor, Design News

Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor for Design News, covering the electronics beat, which includes semiconductors, components, power, embedded systems, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and other related subjects. He is always open to ideas for coverage. Spencer has spent many years covering electronics for brands including Electronic Products, Electronic Buyers News, EE Times, Power Electronics, and electronics360. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him at @spencerchin.

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