Survival of the smartest: how our buildings are being forced to adapt

Following on from Dutch Design Week, Point 6 attended LuxLive 2019 and learned a thing or two about how the future looks in the world of smart buildings.

Some of the brightest minds in lighting descended on London’s ExCel exhibition centre for LuxLive 2019 – Europe’s largest annual lighting event. We were there once again to soak up some of the cutting-edge insights and talk to the smart buildings specialists who are making huge waves in the industry.

We like Lika

But first – as self-confessed lighting geeks – we couldn’t resist taking a look at some of LuxLive’s more aesthetically pleasing offerings before delving into the technical stuff. Some particularly attractive luminaires that caught our eye were from bespoke lighting designer, Lika. Lika is a Croatian-based company, hailing for the small village of Smiljan – famous for being the birthplace of legendary inventor, Nikola Tesla. And Mr.Tesla would surely be impressed with the futuristic forms and hand-crafted housings. We certainly were.

Photo: Just one example of Lika’s beautiful luminaires


Home comforts

Photo: Mechatronic Engineer, Donal Kennedy, presents ROBUS’ latest technology

Have you ever been frantically looking for your phone, only to discover it was in your hand all along? Or been asked the time and reached straight into your pocket, ignoring the watch on your wrist? We’ve been guilty of both, and they’re two examples that stick in our mind when we think about how integrated our phones are in our lives. Of course, this isn’t news to anyone – the tech revolution is happening and here to stay.

Following the lead of the pioneering Philips Hue smart home lighting system, Irish LED company ROBUS has developed its own intuitive technology. ROBUS CONNECT is a cloud-based smart system that allows users to control their home and office lighting at the touch of a button. Dim the lights for evening watching or reading. Programme different colors to match the mood. Schedule lighting to compliment your natural circadian rhythm. All you need is a WiFi or data connection and you’re ready to roll. It’s smart made simple, which is why we only envisage it getting more and more popular as companies like ROBUS continue to evolve its products.

Our homes, however, are not where most of us spend the majority of our time. What happens when our places of work are lagging behind in the race for complete connectivity?

Smarter spaces

Photo: Gooee shows us why cities and buildings need to adapt

Our cities are often seen as the peak of modern civilisation, but as humans continue to evolve at a rapid rate, they start to become increasingly hostile. Currently, our buildings fail to optimise space, use energy efficiently, and provide an environment that suits the people who inhabit them – whether that’s staff, customers or visitors.

Time for a change? Gooee thinks so. Gooee provides a ‘Single-Pane View’ across multiple, siloed building systems, and is described by its MD, Neil Salt, as the eyes, ears and brain of a building. It collects crucial data via sensors connected to the lighting grid, including where and when people move around, where assets are positioned and how frequently spaces are used. Building owners are always looking for new ways to be more sustainable, and they can use this data to optimise their space, determine when lights should come on, when heating should fire up, or even to direct visitors to the place they need to be.

Photo: Peter Duine, Product Manager at Signify, discusses the potential of the technology with Gooee MD, Neil Salt

How it works

The technology is surprisingly simple too. Gooee has developed a wireless Bluetooth network which creates a mesh – a solution that Neil insists is a more suitable and less congested highway for data. This mesh spreads like a net, allowing a multitude of applications and devices to be connected securely. The challenge was scaling this solution, which is where Signify – formerly known as Philips Lighting – comes in.

The Philips SR driver is just one of the components that allows Gooee’s operating platform to be hosted by a building’s lighting – although it’s developed around six modules in total which work with a range of drivers from many different companies. This enables thousands of potential data points to be established throughout, opening up the potential for retrofits. “No one can do it all”, admitted Neil as he explained how he believes in this “vendor agnostic” ecosystem approach. He suggests open APIs should be shared with developer partners from smart systems companies rather than a solo sprint to monopolise the market.

Photo: Gooee’s building operating system benefits all parties.

The results? Energy efficient, responsive and adaptable spaces. Smart buildings which improve the wellbeing of inhabitants and help owners meet environmental and performance targets. As ever, it’s one thing convincing building owners of the benefits, but getting them to buy into it is a whole different ball game. As Neil puts it, it’s about helping them “get over the hump of fear” that comes with new technology. But with new environmental regulations being implemented by some countries – stating that by 2023, a property must be Category C rated in order for it to be rented – there’s a strong motivation to move with the times. When it comes to smart buildings, the future is not too far away.

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