Using office and teaching facilities more effectively with IoT

office meeting room

Offices and teaching spaces are changing, and understanding how people actually use the equipment and space around them is key to making efficiency gains.

Technology to understand how and when your students and staff use shared space could revolutionise the way organisations utilise their facilities.

Space usage sensors allow you to see how desks, rooms and meeting tables are being used.

With this information, your working environment can be adapted to fit specific needs. You can design space to be used in the most efficient way to meet the demands of actual work or study patterns.

Many modern-day offices have successfully incorporated new technology but in some ways little has changed in offices since the late-20th century when each desk would have a computer and a phone wired to it. Now you can carry the computer you need, and connect wirelessly. But untethering people from desks begs the question: Why do we give anyone a desk at all? Indeed, studies have shown that in modern offices, more than 50% of desks remain unused at any time. Yet although desks are being used inefficiently, seating and charging points remain an office necessity.

This is where IoT sensors and trackers can play a crucial role in offices and learning spaces. With sensors tracking everything from energy use to when seats and desks are being used, the data collected can be invested in using space and energy in a more efficient way.

Although geo-location services enable remarkable accuracy using just Wireless Access Point IP address, location-aware services within offices and study spaces could go much further. Google is already testing an indoor GPS-like system called the Visual Positioning System, which would mean “augmented reality” apps for offices. With geospatial accuracy, time spent locating vacant desks or finding somewhere to charge devices or navigating to available meeting rooms could be dramatically reduced.

To make this a reality we need smart sensors that can provide accurate real-time occupancy data and easy to understand analytics of usage along with machine learning, to suggest continuous improvement for your usage of space. This combination of factors promises to help revolutionise and facilitate office space and learning design.

We are tackling each of these solution areas. First, we have developed two space utilisation sensors – one based upon digital signal processing of a traditional PIR sensor to provide a more ‘tuned’ output and the other on a cognitive vision system that can classify and count faces and bodies within a room. The later solution suited to developing ‘heatmaps’ and helps highlight how people move through spaces. Second, we have connected these sensors to a secure cloud service based upon Microsoft Azure and from this can offer Analytics and Cognitive services to gain insight.

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