Bringing IOT, Smart Technology, and Revenue Potential to Commercial Buildings

Background

While modern buildings have some level of smart technology for functions like temperature and humidity control, and lighting, the introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT) to the industry is significantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible. In fact, the commercial real estate industry today is looking for smart technology providers to go beyond just helping reduce costs, and to create products that have an impact on the bottom line, including revenue generation. A global player in the industry wanted to do just that when he looked to revisit his existing product line of smart building technology.

As a leading provider of IOT solutions to building owners, developers, and managers, the company has an existing product line but is keenly aware of the need to align their technology to the goals of their clients. In their effort to meet the expanding needs of their market, the client partnered with Marsner Technologies to completely rethink their products and include functional and design improvements with the addition of client revenue potential with digital advertising.

Challenges

The redesign had to include new capabilities with more intuitive user experience and at the same time achieve a modern, sleek design with no buttons. The client was also looking for a fluid and futuristic user interface that could run on a relatively inexpensive and widely available IoT platform.

The new product line is composed of smart tablets that serve several different users in different circumstances. They would support building management and tenants for building controls like environmental conditions and power usage while also welcoming visitors, allowing video and audio calls between rooms, or viewing room availability. A power/controller unit is used to read information and control the other devices around the building. Users would also be able to interact with the smart tablets using their smartphones.

Design for the smart tablets was to include opportunities for digital advertising that was consistent with the modern design and streamlined user experience. Building owners could give tenants the opportunity to reach building visitors with exclusive offers or notices about services and products available to them in the building.

For the existing product line, the client worked with separate companies for hardware, software, mechanical design, and integration. Managing and coordinating 4 independent companies had hindered the process and impacted the budget. They were hoping to reduce overhead costs and expedite the process for the new design.

Solution

Marsner Technologies was able to provide complete end-to-end development using their in-house teams. We worked closely with the client from concept to prototype which included several key areas of development:

  • An agile development process was used and allowed for functional prototypes available at key stages for better collaboration and client interaction.
  • A thin hardware design approach to the tablets, limiting user interaction to the touch screen, and design strategies to manage dissipate heat helped deliver the sleek design requirement of the client.
  • Thorough research went into recommendations for the software platform and tools to support the user interface. The QT framework was chosen for it’s compatibility with the IoT platform, it’s overall performance scores and the quality and fluidity of the user interface.
  • The entire system was designed to be highly interconnectable with other devices in the building ranging from smart devices that communicate over wires protocols all the way down to more traditional devices that work with differential wired protocols and event devices that needed direct AC current control. For the connections that require an interference-free and guaranteed transfer of high amount of data like video calls and streaming, an Ethernet connection was used. For the connections that require an interference-free and guaranteed transfer of high amount of data like video calls and streaming, an Ethernet connection was used.
  • An automated quality assurance (QA) system was designed to test the new product in real-world scenarios. Testing was used to confirm the quality of the user experience as well as the power and electrical system, communication with other system devices, and connectivity with other smart devices.
  • Marsner Technologies structured the design and development process to match with the complex product certification requirements of the client, to help expedite certification.

Results

The new smart tablets reflect a modern and sleek design but also successfully include an enhanced list of features, including digital advertising. They also meet the client’s requirements for simple and intuitive user experience. Marsner Technologies created a prototype that the client introduced to potential clients with very positive results. Because Marsner Technologies was able to manage the end-to-end process entirely in-house, the client saw a significant reduction in overhead costs, despite the more complex product design. Cost savings were also achieved because multiple rounds of certification were not required.

Key features:

  • Sleek and modern looking touch panels
  • Intuitive and immersive touch interface
  • Nonintrusive, personalized and targeted advertising distribution

Industry: IoT, Smart Building

Technologies: Embedded C, C++, QT, WebRTC

Tools: Eagle, Visual Studio, QT Designer, Solidworks, Git, Jira

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