COLUMN – The Value of Virtual
January 3, 2012 - Our building automation industry needs to create new value out of “virtual-ness”. By using our rapidly evolving networking tools we need to project our real time data, using graphical animations of our invisible cornerstones of comfort, energy, and environmental impact. We need to “Make the Invisible Visible” so all may collaborate freely and in real time with any platform, anytime, anywhere. The tools now exist and we need to open up the industry and share our information in the cloud with new partners we've never met, allowing them to add value to our dynamic data with powerful web services.
Our virtual-ness will allow us to connect seamlessly to “touch” computing. New input methods will be the dominant trend of 2012. Tablet computers, such as the iPad, might seem like a nice alternative to desktop and laptop computers, but they are actually replacements. Just as the command line (remember that?) gave way to graphical user interfaces, the mouse will be superseded by touchscreens. This will be followed by the rise of gestural interface and other new GUI trends, plus HTML5. For more on this, read my collection of the blizzard of information that monthly falls off my desktop.
Building Intelligence Becomes Mobile
Korey Warzala, marketing associate, DGLogik Inc.
A new era of building automation has arrived. You can now see all of your facilities in its actual environment rendered in real time with true-to-life graphics parallel to the gaming industry standards. Virtual monitoring has building intelligence professionals strongly agreeing that performance dashboards and custom visualization are top priority to enable better analysis, well informed decisions, and quicker action.
Trends show an increasing amount of features and applications available causing increased mobile uptake. Mobile development and adoption has exploded in the past year. Our fast paced lifestyle has forced mobile devices to become a primary source of data consumption. With the mobile revolution well underway and the availability of smart mobile devices increasing exponentially, the building automation industry is set to greatly benefit from these web-enabled gadgets.
Recognizing the benefits of building intelligence mobility, the most cutting edge visualization is available across all platforms. Building intelligence has become mobile. As a native app for Android and iOS, users are able to consume any dashboard or application at any place, at any time. With the ability to access building automation software on the go, facility managers and building owners, have the power to take action from anywhere in the world, regardless of whether they are sitting in the office in front of a computer or walking their dog in the park. This technology is now available and is optimizing automated buildings beyond any standards of the past.
This article adds the following perspective by sharing information with the building occupants:
Energy Dashboards Are Evolving
Sarah Erdman, marketing director, QA Graphics
Technology is rapidly changing the building industry and the momentum doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. Energy dashboards have evolved significantly during the past few years; originally for the purpose of reviewing complex building information, now it’s commonplace to share this information with the building occupants. Interactive technology has allowed this energy data to be more visual, and more importantly – more accessible.
Adding occupants to the equation has greatly changed how energy dashboards are presented. For occupants, this information must have more of an educational focus and be easier to understand than the technical monitoring that an operations team would review. This is something that QA Graphics continues to focus on. The company has been an industry leader in making building concepts more visual, from BAS graphics for behind the scenes, to high-end equipment models and animations for marketing needs, and energy dashboards for the purpose of educating building occupants. The company has helped define how the solutions should differ when used by the two audiences, how facility management relies on energy dashboards for key performance indicators, whereas occupants need much more basic data for education. We have worked to introduce the term, energy education dashboards, to clarify the importance of the educational aspect for occupants. The company has presented this concept at several industry conferences, including the 2011 Green California Schools Summit, 2011 Iowa Energy Summit, and the 2010 Sustainable Solutions Conference, highlighting how education is a big differentiator when sharing building data with occupants.
This article expands our horizons with an interactive and collaborative environment:
Pushing Stakeholder Collaboration Beyond Construction
Nicholas Jeffery, COO, VIMtrek
Virtual environment modeling is certainly not new. There are numerous rendering tools in the market that can create stunning images and picturesque walkthroughs of glorious buildings yet to be built. But after the project kicks off, that’s all you are left with: a pretty picture or video and not much else. Ultimately these are tools for selling the building, not for working on the building, and certainly not for improving an existing building. These visuals are for the most part separated from the valuable data and are worth no more than the original rough visual.
What designers need is a way to get these data-rich BIM models back in the hands of all stakeholders, so that they may contribute to the design process. Enter visual information modeling, or VIM.
Moving beyond simple BIM modeling, VIM software converts Autodesk Revit files in just minutes to VIM files. These VIM files create an interactive and collaborative environment to work in, much like in a first-person video game (think Halo or Modern Warfare). A VIM file puts users into the project and allows them to walk the space freely and “see” for themselves the potential built environment and do a design check. Obviously, the architect can lock down areas or views that he/she does not want to share, but other than that, the virtual building is free to wander and explore.
This article adds the new generation of analytic tools:
John Petze, C.E.M., SkyFoundry
We need to look at a huge amount of data in order to understand how our equipment systems really operate so that we can identify the conditions that are causing them to use more energy than desired, or result in other measures of unacceptable performance. And, the things we need to look at are not simply “limit-based” relationships. We need to take into account trends and deviations over time, and the complex interactions that occur between different systems under changing environmental conditions.
This presents significant challenge – how can we “see” the operation of all of our systems and devices and the interactions and behaviours that are not optimal? It’s simply not possible to accomplish with purely human effort. We need to augment our abilities with software technology. And that is where “visualization” and the new generation of analytic tools come in.
What do you think “open” means? What do you think “visible” means? How can we increase the value of virtual with them? If you are coming to Chicago come to our AHR free Education Sessions. Please read our preview—What does “Open” mean?—as we now have our industry experts selected who will be speaking at our session, New Open Source Technologies that are Changing the Industry 1:30 pm Monday, January 23th.
Ken Sinclair is the publisher of AutomatedBuildings.com and can be reached at email@example.com.