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Merging the old with the new

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a market that’s undergoing massive changes, especially in terms of the better management of commercial property.

Owners of properties are under pressure to maximize value per square foot and deliver much improved experiences for their occupants.

The IoT is seen as helping to solve these challenges by providing better insights and predictability for space usage including things like room occupancy, resource trends and traffic patterns.

Arm recently unveiled Space Analytics, part of its Pelion Smart Spaces solutions for property managers of commercial buildings and is intended to show when, where and how buildings are being used by securely gathering and analysing data from off-the-shelf IoT devices. Through the solution’s machine learning capabilities, it is able to provide actionable data insights on space and resource usage, all of which improve efficiencies and boost revenues.

Another company, Adesto Technologies, that provides application-specific semiconductors and embedded systems for the IoT, has made available its own next-generation edge server for building automation and industrial IoT applications.

“Our SmartServer IoT is the industry’s first truly open, full-featured and end-to-end industrial-rated IoT edge server and has been designed to provide out-of-the-box device management services and is intended to help system integrators deploy solutions quickly,” explained Apurba Pradham VP of marketing, Embedded Systems Division, Adesto.

According to Pradham, “Smart commercial buildings are a significant and rapidly growing segment of the Industrial IoT market. Facility managers are looking to merge traditional building automation and control (BAC) systems with the latest sensing, communications and cloud technologies.”

Adesto has served this space for some time but is looking to grow its share of this fast growing market.

“Our offering is one that looks to combine software and system capabilities. Customers want a more joined up solution and we believe that in order to be successful we need to be an application and market specific player, adding value to our products with software that is suitable for specific verticals - in this case industrial.”

This space is a tough one to enter, according to Pradham.

“There are certainly barriers, especially those associated with performance such longevity and reliability. And the other is that you need to be able to embrace and work alongside existing industrial systems.

“If you look at building automation, transportation and smart systems in general you are going to have to deal with legacy systems that aren’t going to go away.”

Adesto recently acquired Echelon a company with a long history of operating in this space.

“They had a large, installed base and we have been able to leverage their technology IP and deployments, both of which have proved critical.”

Adesto’s SmartServer IoT looks to help integrate the massive number of non-interoperable communications protocols systems that have evolved over the years to support a buildings’ diverse functions, whether that’s lighting, security, HVAC or fire detection – with new sensing, analytics and predictive AI services.

The SmartServer features built-in support for popular building automation protocols and services and has a data abstraction layer for connecting with emerging IoT protocols and devices.

“Retrofitting existing buildings accounts for upwards of 80 percent of the overall market – it’s the dominant trend,” explained Pradham.

“Few companies have the tools to do this successfully and there aren’t that many tools that can integrate existing technology with the new. That’s where out SmartServer platform comes into play, it makes it much easier to add new systems.”

“Edge servers represent the crossroads where traditional operational systems meet the IoT, and today they are needed across just about every industrial and built-in environment,” said Adarsh Krishnan, principal analyst, ABI Research.

“Bridging the separate islands of automation in buildings without losing the considerable investment in each specialised control network is the key.

Neil Tyler

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