As 2018 comes to an end, the optimal smart building — one that integrates technology on every level to drive performance, interactivity, and productivity — remains largely on the horizon.
What’s holding us back? A lack of systems interoperability, a robust enough information infrastructure, and a vision for what to do with all that data mean that truly intelligent buildings have been slow to come online.
The industry is getting there, though. Incremental improvements in technology efficiency, device security, and infrastructure capabilities will push things forward in 2019. TEECOM’s sector experts forecast the following building technology trends:
Telecommunications Design Forecast
Principal, Executive Vice President
Power over Ethernet capabilities will open up IoT potential.
The IEEE ratified new Power over Ethernet (PoE) cabling types in late 2018. The new standards allow us to run a significant amount of wattage to endpoint devices through an ethernet cable, without the need for an additional power outlet.
This opens up a ton of potential for the Internet of Things because you can power smart devices between 30-90 watts using only an ethernet cable. Things like charging stations, laptops, and lighting may no longer require a power plug.
As of 2019, TEECOM recommends that new builds standardize on LP (limited power) cable, UL-listed for at least .5 amps, to support PoE needs. Code changes that require this are being adopted at different rates state-by-state, but because of the advantages and the fact that there’s no significant difference in the cost of the LP cable, our practice is to specify LP cable regardless of code.
Direct connect will simplify design.
In 2019, clients should also think about implementing modular plug terminated links, also known as direct connect. This technique was recently approved for ANSI/TIA compliance, and it allows a variety of devices, such as wireless access points and surveillance cameras, to be plugged without the need for an outlet and a patch cord. From a design standpoint, this simplifies systems and makes testing easier. It also saves clients a little bit of money because we eliminate the patch cord and box on the end.
Physical Security Design Forecast
Principal, Vice President
Greater implementation of OSDP will truly provide cybersecurity for access control systems.
Already in use by many major product manufacturers, the Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP), an access control communications standard developed by the Security Industry Association (SIA), increases interoperability and security between card readers and panels through data encryption. We’re going to see accelerated implementation of OSDP because the current proximity card format has been completely compromised. You can basically buy a copy of your card at Bed Bath & Beyond.
Bluetooth access credentials will be more widely implemented.
Large organizations are moving toward the use of connected mobile devices as the credential to interface with the building’s access control system, replacing PINs, cards, and keys. In 2019, we’ll see greater implementation of Bluetooth access credentials on your phone to enter buildings and, especially, parking garages, and for allowing visitors or visitor management.
Cybersecurity and video analytics gains.
Implementation of cloud-based security systems will continue to expand for small and mid-sized customers. The use of NVIDIA GPU cards will help speed implementation of AI in video analytics. All of the major camera manufacturers are starting to use this and it can process the video at a level that will allow implementation of facial recognition in controlled environments.
Audiovisual Design Forecast
Principal, Vice President
A movement toward zero-click meetings.
At this point we’re all holding remote meetings all the time, and the technology has made that a lot easier. Clients want to click one thing to launch meetings and content; we can now do that. When you book conference rooms as part of a Google Meet, for example, the meeting will appear on the screen in the room and you can just click the link to launch.
Eventually, meetings will be zero clicks. TEECOM’s R&D group, TEECOMlabs, is experimenting with this: allowing users to walk into the room and the meeting automatically boots up, or maybe the room queries you, “Do you want to start the meeting?” If you have smart speakers you can already start by voice. Some places aren’t going to want a smart speaker in their confidential meeting places, so other solutions are also needed.
Cameras offer a more natural Field of View.
Another trend addresses the phenomenon wherein room size and camera Field of View are mismatched. Camera products that allow you to adjust the FOV are becoming more popular, and that leads to a better meeting experience. Other cameras will track people in the room who are talking and auto adjust. They aren’t completely successful yet (still a little glitchy), but they’re getting there, and we’ll see more adoption in 2019.
Acoustics Design Forecast
Multipurpose will mean more noise challenges.
Over the past ten to 20 years the trend in workplaces has been toward open space, which resulted in noise complaints. Now, larger enterprise clients are providing more one-stop-shop multipurpose spaces that can host, say, workouts and catering in the same space. It’s great for recruiting and creating company culture, but it does introduce new noise challenges. How can we help clients host game rooms or fab labs next to office areas, keep the layout open, and provide acoustical isolation within limited square footage? This is an issue we’ll be helping clients overcome more in 2019.
Wi-Fi/Networking Design Forecast
An accelerated trend toward wireless will mean fewer cables in the workplace.
The trend toward wireless over wired connectivity has been accelerating for a while now. 2015 was the first year that there were more wireless connections talking to the internet than wired. The tipping point now is that wireless network technology has gotten really, really good. In fact, Wi-Fi technology advancements are rolling out every six months, each at an order of magnitude that’s better than the one just before.
That’s a little scary for building owners because how do you keep up? We advise getting the most advanced Wi-Fi technology on the market now, and designing your system to support having all your devices be Wi-Fi connected. That’s the future in the workplace. People are using more laptops, and bringing their own phones to work. No one wants to be tethered. Wi-Fi can actually be faster now than a wired network, if engineered correctly.
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) iBeacons give Wireless Access Points location-based functionality.
Manufacturers are putting BLE beacons into their access points. These beacons have intelligence, which is kind of cool. You can have an application triangulate off these beacons and determine the location of a person inside a building, allowing for true indoor Real Time Location Systems (RTLS). Bluetooth beacons are reliable and allow accuracy up to two meters.
This opens up possibilities for self-guided museum tours, wayfinding in buildings, and smart management of spaces, as well as things like automatic meeting starts or room rescheduling. In the future, it might also lead to proximity-aware notifications (advertising, information, find a friend/workmate, or super smart office spaces).