October 16, 2012 By Howard Nunes
InfoComm International brought together 100 of the A/V industry’s luminaries in Reston, Va., on Oct. 11-12 to evaluate the latest business opportunities.
The theme of the 2012 InfoComm 100 was “The Smart Building Imperative,” and the invitation-only gathering included presentations from smart building experts and A/V industry members who are leading the effort to exploit the smart building trend.
This year’s session opened with an entertaining and enlightening presentation by Bruce Kasanoff, business consultant and co-author of “Smart Customers, Stupid Companies”, who focused on building strong customer relations and taking advantage of megatrends.
Among the many valuable insights he shared, Kasanoff addressed the rapid proliferation of sensor technology and the impact it will have on buildings of the future. He used the iPhone as an example of sensor density, with proximity, light and sound sensors, two cameras, accelerometers, GPS, BlueTooth, and WiFi, in addition to simple cellular.
Imagine when the building can tell you that people in your meeting are bored, just by taking advantage of sensors that are already included in many technology-enabled rooms? Microphones, cameras and WiFi can all be used as sensors to aid in understanding human behavior and its situational relevance. “Smart” in the future means pervasively tracking, remembering and sharing important sensor-based information, and projections indicate that this opportunity is enormous.
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Evolving A/V companies will need to learn how to take advantage of this trend in developing their products, and even more importantly, their services.
Smart Buildings author and smart building expert Jim Sinopoli followed with a deep-dive on how a fully integrated buildings work. Sinopoli noted the rapid convergence of all building systems on the IT network, which allows systems to communicate with each other and is the first step to enabling a smart building. He emphasized that one major motivation has driven the trend towards fully integrated buildings: operational efficiency.
Most people understand that operational efficiency leads to energy savings. But it also leads to lower overall operational costs and a higher return on business investments. According to Sinopoli, the killer app of the smart building is going to be “Analytics,” the conversion of massive data into organized, useful information. Sinopoli believes that traditional A/V providers are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the smart building trend, as they are adept at integrating widely diverse systems in high-pressure situations, a critical skill set for achieving smart building goals.
Day one was rounded out with some lively discussion among the attendees, focused on how “audiovisual” companies can become “smart building” companies by understanding the nature of smart building opportunities and how to leverage them. But the transition is much easier than some might think.
Technologies typically installed by A/V providers already incorporate the sensors, databases, and reporting capabilities needed to provide much higher value than is actually delivered on a typical project. For example, an A/V control system can track information to trigger automation, and an A/V asset management system can provide centralized reporting to improve facility management and energy efficiency, if only they are programmed to do so.
Similarly, having the room control system communicate with a calendaring system and occupancy sensors enables HVAC, lighting and A/V settings automatically to be tailored for maximum comfort, convenience AND energy savings.