Ten years on the EnOcean Alliance has more than 400 members. So why hasn’t its technology been taken up more widely?

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Earlier this month, the EnOcean Alliance celebrated its 10th anniversary, having been created in 2008 to promote innovative maintenance-free wireless solutions that could be used primarily in sustainable building projects.

According to Graham Martin, the Alliance’s chairman and CEO: “Over that period, our focus has been on promoting and enabling intelligent green buildings through the creation of a broad range of interoperable products. Our aim was to make buildings more energy-efficient, flexible and more cost effective.”

The EnOcean Alliance has expanded and looked to strengthen its programme in the building automation and IoT sectors. “We were founded with just seven members; as of today, we have more than 400,” Martin says. “New partners include IBM, NTT Communications and Bouygues Construction and the Alliance can now offer more than 1500 interoperable products as we look to promote the standardisation of intelligent building solutions for the IoT.”

Energy harvesting wireless technology can generate a signal using an extremely small amount of energy and a standard energy harvesting wireless module can transmit a signal up to 300m in free field. The signal process – from start, execution to completion – takes no more than 1ms.

Despite the technology being well established, the market has been a lot slower to take off than expected, concedes Martin.

“To be honest, the smart home and building markets haven’t grown in the way we expected when the Alliance was established. It’s got nothing to do with the technology; rather, it is to do with that fact that we are dealing with a slow-moving market.

“Those making the decisions haven’t been keen to change – whether engineers, architects or specifiers.”

However, Martin says he’s beginning to see growing interest and claims that 2017 was the Alliance’s best year to date.

Traditional trends in this market have been energy efficiency, security and safety and comfort, but today new ones are emerging, according to Martin. “We’re seeing trends such as cognitive self-learning buildings, a focus on workspace comfort and efficiency, the deployment of IoT applicatons in the residential space; a move in construction towards new business models in which they provide services; and the growing use of outdoor monitoring applications.”

“The Alliance can now offer more than 1500 interoperable products as we look to promote the standardisation of intelligent building solutions for the IoT.”
Graham Martin, EnOcean Alliance chairman

Recent surveys are said to show the costs associated with poor working conditions. “By focusing on issues like light, noise and air quality, research has shown that introducing automation can improve productivity significantly and cut absenteeism. While using our technology to help automate a workspace will cost up to $40 per person,” says Martin, “the productivity benefits are, according to research by the Harvard Business Journal, around $6500.”

The deployment of wireless sensors, measuring data and communicating with an intelligent system, can save businesses up to 40% in energy costs, Martin says.

“Our work with IBM combines our expertise in sensor technology with its ability, via the Cloud, to process vast amounts of data. Our sensors can easily be hooked up via a gateway to the IBM cloud.”

The next decade promises significant growth, Martin believes. “We’ll be working to further enhance a higher security of the EnOcean wireless standard, as well as delivering an advanced optimised profile structure.

“We’ll continue our work in developing an IoT certification, further supporting the organisation’s IoT approach, helping to develop interoperable, easy-to-install self-powered wireless solutions as a standard for the Internet of Things.”

A combination of new regulations, the rise of big data and the transition of intelligent to cognitive buildings suggests, to Martin, that EnOcean is entering a more dynamic phase in its development.