Connected sensors. We’re hearing about them in healthcare, in retail, and in smart-grid discussions. We’re seeing them in our fitness devices, our vehicles, and our common household objects, making them “smart.” But connected sensors are making an even bigger impact than all of that.
They’re in our very structures, our buildings, and our infrastructure. These sensors are collecting data and sending it off to be analyzed and monitored in realtime. They’re working in the background to make our buildings safer and more efficient.
According to Frost & Sullivan, www.frost.com, sensor technologies are becoming an integral part of today’s buildings. While the research, analysis, and advisory firm admits this process is “gradual,” it suggests growing interest in energy management, including energy conservation and reduced carbon-dioxide emissions, has encouraged research in this area. An upswing in interest and research has led to more energy-efficient buildings, often as a result of implementing M2M technology.
Frost & Sullivan’s latest analysis on the subject finds a key factor driving the growth of sensors is the integration of “wireless communication techniques” in sensors used for building applications. The company says these techniques help systems overcome challenges posed by wired sensor networks and can be easily fitted into existing infrastructure.
Connected sensors bring an unprecedented level of visibility and control within a building’s systems, including lighting, heating and air conditioning, and ventilation, among others. Other sensors, such as those that measure and detect motion and air quality, have also made forward progress as part of the trend headed for mainstream adoption.
Frost says multi-sensing capabilities for a building’s parameters such as temperature, humidity, and carbon-dioxide levels, as well as the ability to sense occupancy, will bring forth a new era in building maintenance and monitoring. This technology will allow (and, indeed, already is allowing) a more comprehensive look into a building’s environment at all times.
While many of the benefits of integrating smart sensing technologies into buildings seem clear cut, the company’s analysis suggests the industry must work to improve the accuracy of sensors in order to minimize any false or inaccurate readings and to maximize adoption. Frost also suggests more improvements could be made in terms of incorporating energy-harvesting techniques—which could reduce the load these systems have on the power grid, while also reducing maintenance by eliminating the need to replace batteries.
While there is always room for improvement within this and all other industries into which connected devices have permeated, it seems connected sensor applications have begun a new era in building technology.