While presenting a recent lecture for students of Georgia Institute of Technology, the similarities between these young people’s probing idealism and inquisitive nature struck me as very similar to our own ethos at CNS.
The students, accompanied by Professor Thomas Keel of the School of Building Construction at Georgia Institute of Technology, contributed to a lively lecture, debate and Q&A session on the topic of convergence. Hailing from different but complementary disciplines within the built environment, the stateside students made the afternoon session, which was generously hosted by One Sight Solutions at their premises in Hampshire, a thoroughly thought-provoking, engaging, and enjoyable experience.
During the session, we explored how convergent technology has changed and continues to shape nearly every aspect of our modern life; before narrowing our focus to examine how convergent technologies will help develop the building and lighting control industry.
Convergent technology involves the integration of two or more different technologies into a single device. A great example of convergent technology is the smart phone you probably have on, or in near proximity, to your body right now. Instead of carrying separate devices, the invention of the smartphone has enabled us to amalgamate and harness the capabilities of a phone, MP3 player, camera, personal organiser and much more into one single device.
Within the building and lighting controls industry, convergent technology allows different components of a facility’s Building Management System (BMS), such as air-conditioning, heating, access control and lighting to integrate and speak to each other. This allows data and information to inform the end user, resulting in increased cost savings and energy efficiencies.
Furthermore, these convergent smart web-based solutions remove layers of unnecessary equipment that drain energy and money and give the end user more in terms of flexibility and choice. This means they can choose who delivers, operates and maintains their system, as well as having full control over future equipment and software preferences.
Additionally, smart Internet of Things (IoT) based control solutions can deliver valuable real-time data to connected devices. This can be of particular value in sectors such as lighting control, where growing research highlights the impact that factors including the colour and intensity of light can have on employee productivity and health. Thus, full access to this analytical data can enable facilities managers to optimally deliver lighting control that can positively affect their company’s bottom line.
However, there is a major disclaimer here. All these benefits are contingent on a vital condition. To fully extrapolate the value of convergent technology, the building and lighting controls must operate to truly open and interoperable standards.
This issue of vendor independence and interoperability (or lack of) is still very prominent, especially in the lighting controls sector, where unless all the components on the system are from one manufacturer, effective communication and operation is not likely. By not allowing similar devices from different manufacturers to communicate within the same lighting system, end-users and facilities managers have no choice but to choose a single manufacturer’s offering.
Consequently, the building and lighting controls industry can sometimes feel quite closed. With the ‘big-hitters’ controlling a large market share and attempting to enforce a droll hegemony that can stifle technological innovation as well as the quality of end product offered to the client, the sector can be very frustrating.
However, there does exist vendor independent, smart IoT based lighting solutions. For example, based upon a building’s existing BMS, CNS’s elitedali™ is an example of a flexible and truly interoperable lighting control system. Integrating with an existing Niagara BMS, elitedali enables the BMS system to control the lighting and connects it with the IoT – allowing end users to fully harness the benefits that convergent technology can offer.
As a company CNS is proud to be at the cutting edge of innovation, helping to bring convergent technological solutions to the market. Much like the students I encountered during our presentation on convergence, CNS will continue to push against the status quo when necessary, challenging stagnant and out-dated mentalities when it comes to open standards and strive to deliver top-class building and lighting solutions that benefit the end user.
View the presentation given to the students of Georgia Institute of Technology.