Validate (or Invalidate) Your Design

06Sep15

Sensor technology now allows architects to see whether their assumptions created a successful environment.

Read the full article here

Steve Sanderson had grand plans for the kitchen in Case Inc.’s upcoming office in New York. Because his colleagues at the building information and technology consultancy always seemed to congregate in their existing space’s eating area, he and the fit-out team carved out a spacious, light-filled spot in the new floor plan and equipped it with a communal table and a stocked refrigerator.

But his assumptions about the kitchen’s popularity turned out to be wrong—a fact that Sanderson, now the vice president of building intelligence at WeWork, which recently acquired Case, would continue to argue were it not for Case’s in-house experiment with indoor positioning and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Catapulting off the Internet of Things (IoT), in which products—such as the Nest thermostat and the Fitbit—equipped with sensors relay information within a local, closed system, the IIoT aggregates data collected from networks of sensored objects to optimize large-scale systems, such as business operations, traffic controls, and, yes, building occupancy. (This article will use the IoT to reference both concepts.)

Myriad open-source and proprietary IoT technologies are now available, with light fixtures well positioned to host sensors due to their ubiquity. After Case moved into their new space, its research team, in conjunction with RMIT University doctoral candidate Mani Williams, stuck Apple’s Bluetooth-enabled iBeacons on office walls to track each employee’s movements throughout the workday using trilateration and a cellphone app to which they would voluntarily log on. Six weeks and 7 million data points later, the 33 staff members became exemplars of the next chapter of post-occupancy evaluation: validating architectural program through big data.

tural program through big data.

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