Look at a printed circuit board with all its wee components and connectors linked via conductive circuits. Squint hard, and it looks like a cute, little city with the capacitors, diodes, and resistors looking like buildings, each connected and providing a network of power or communication.
Actual smart buildings are a lot like that, on a much larger scale, of course. Smart buildings connect and network with their automated systems that control heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, security, and other related systems. In the past, these systems operated independently of one another, competing for attention and resources. However, as the technology evolved, so did connectivity and networking systems and applications. As a result, the smart building is effective as one organic digital being.
Just like a smart home, today's automated buildings rely on Internet of Things (IoT) devices and connectivity to create a networked environment that delivers safety, efficiency, productivity, profitability, and other benefits from situational awareness.
Smart or hyper-aware buildings are a fusion of edge IoT systems and network-generated context. While IoT devices are the eyes and ears of the facility, information technology systems provide contextual information and serve as a backbone for facility-wide communications.
In this week's New Tech Tuesdays, we'll look at Microchip Technology, Terabee, and Würth Elektronik products that design engineers and developers should find useful in smart-building development.
Like any smart object, you start with a central nervous system—a primary command center. The Microchip Technology PD-USB-DP60 PoE to USB-C® Power and Data Adapter can be the backbone of a smart building. Its Power Over Ethernet (PoE) connection allows users to leverage the advantage of PoE and USB-C technologies. PoE powers, lighting, sensor nodes, security, cameras, etc. The adapter enables flexible installation of USB-C devices, removes the need for a close power outlet, and resolves limited USB cable length. It's suitable for small PCs, interactive information kiosks, computing devices, smart monitors, and more.
Who are all these people in my building, and how can we track them? Terabee TeraRanger Evo People Counters can help. They're small, discreet sensors ideal for measuring the bidirectional flow of people in buildings, retail markets, hospitality, and events. In addition, they're ideal for monitoring pedestrian access and flow, retail Point of Sale (PoS) analytics, and staff development strategies. The devices feature vertical and horizontal mounting options with a 0.05m to 2.5m detection range and easy integration, making them ideal for OEM design-in projects
What are the humidity and temperature readings in my building? A Würth Elektronik WSEN-HIDS Humidity Sensor will find out. Based on advanced micro-electro-mechanical (MEMS) technology, the sensor is don't-move-it's-on-your-eyelash tiny—2mm x 2mm x 0.9mm. Its small form makes the sensor suitable for data loggers and stationary and portable IoT applications. The temperature sensor with an integrated analog-digital converter (ADC) can connect to commonly used microcontrollers via an I²C or serial peripheral interface (SPI).
Given where it started a few decades ago, smart-building technology has momentum on its side. Building automation has evolved from having standalone, analog-like systems that lacked connectivity to a converted network that can monitor its own vitals.
Tommy Cummings is a freelance writer/editor based in Texas. He's had a journalism career that has spanned more than 40 years. He contributes to Texas Monthly and Oklahoma Today magazines. He's also worked at The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. Tommy worked at Mouser Electronics from 2018 to 2021 as a technical content and product content specialist.
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