07 Nov The Road to the Ultimate Sensor
Things. In the IT world, this word is thrown around constantly, despite being an extremely open-ended term. What’s the context? In the broadest sense, when we refer to a “thing” we refer to a small, low powered device, capable of reading or reacting to changes in the environment. It’s easy to hear about The Internet of Things, without fully realising its potential to gain valuable insights on your immediate surroundings.
I’m Elvin Luff, and I focus on all things Tech. At Measuremen, my passion is to look forward; to new and exciting ideas, to apply these concepts to generate more data and insights into how a workplace is actually used. The concept of small, interconnected Things fascinates me, and the number of scenarios it could be applied to are vast. Sensors allow us to gain information in a reliable, consistent and precise manner, with minimal bias.
When I was approached with the challenge of making the best workplace sensor solution, with a blank canvas and a fresh start, I immediately jumped on the opportunity. The team has been hard at work for some time now, and I’m proud to finally be able to share some of our work. With so many avenues to apply the technology to, we’ve started simple, working our way up to tackle the bigger issues. Now that our first product, Occupancy, is ready to ship, I’m continuing to apply the sensor technologies we’ve experimented with to new areas.
What makes occupancy such a good place to start? Measuremen has been collecting this data for years now, and sensors allow us to take this to a whole new level. By combining the sensors together into one big stream of data, we can not only answer questions in more detail than ever before, but we can do it in real time. This is the real power of The Internet of Things – by having an instantly available dataset to work with, we can gain some interesting insights that just weren’t possible before. Here are some examples.
How do I determine the percentage of time that a desk is occupied, down to the minute? By using the Measuremen Portal, I can choose the desk number, and drill right into the data.
Is the desk occupied right now? I can see this, without leaving my own desk.
How about the live occupancy of every desk in an office on the other side of the world? It’s just another click away.
With such a fast-moving field, it’s important to spend time to take the edge off the bleeding edge, and produce a solution that is reliable and robust. We’ve spent months field testing these sensors, from the sensor accuracy, the battery technology, even the type of adhesive we use; to ensure we don’t damage anything upon removal. Here are some highlights about the technology itself:
• The battery of a sensor will last for up to 7 years, making it truly “set and forget”.
• The range of a sensor is up to 2km in an urban environment, so we minimise the amount of receiver units visible in the workplace.
• We can install all equipment without touching existing IT infrastructure, reducing security concerns (as a fellow IT guy, I know the hassle).
• With our unique adhesives, we can quickly and easily install and remove equipment at a moment’s notice, minimising disruption to employees.
• We can accurately determine the occupancy of a space without capturing any personally identifiable information – no cameras here.
Of course, these technologies don’t come together overnight; in Research & Development, for every 1 success, there are 10 rejects. It’s been a battle over the last 6 months to not just provide a reliable solution but to do it at scale. In fact, Measuremen has been running sensor-based projects for 2 years now! While these projects were largely successful, there was no room to expand beyond a few hundred sensors. With time comes new technologies, and now we’re able to operate at tens of thousands – an order of magnitude higher than just two years ago.
What’s to come in the future? Desk Occupancy is just the beginning. Now that we have a solid and reliable base on which to build more sensors, there are plenty of new ideas being presented on a constant basis. We’re currently working on new applications, such as measuring the utilisation of meeting facilities and even gathering satisfaction feedback from the users of a space. Right now, however, the biggest piece is dropping into place. With large numbers of sensors comes huge sets of data, and the Measuremen Portal is now ready to make sense of it all. We expect to be receiving up to 10 million status updates every day from our sensors, and Portal is capable of producing the valuable insights and metrics to understand the data being collected.
I’m interested to hear how you intend to use Portal to further your workplace strategy! If you want to discuss the tech or have any questions regarding this blog, don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com