Intelligent Buildings?

By Ken Collins 12/07/2010

Modern buildings have a lot ofmarine-lab-energy-diagram technology that goes into them. From the development of the products they are built from, to the systems that allow us to live, work, and play in them. The rate of technology uptake into our new buildings is surging up every year, especially when it comes to entertainment systems and power control.

However one area where the uptake has been lagging, is automation of the building itself. There are many — mainly commercial buildings — that have computers to control heat and ventilation, opening or closing louvers automatically, not to mention air conditioning systems with some advanced control systems.

But it was this article on an “Intelligent house” that caught our eye in the office. Extending the technology interface between building and control system where it features a prototype climate control system with sensors in the floor and walls to measure the temperature. The information is sent to a server, which can then open or close windows to keep the temperature comfortable. The system is also connected to a weather station which can predict the weather for several days.

To see these features being built into a house is unusual, and the climate control system is described as being a prototype. But why is this? Why (on the whole) is this sort of technology not being developed and marketed widely as the next step up from passive insulation and energy efficient heaters?

The article doesn’t indicate what the cost of the system is, although I imagine if it is a prototype, it won’t be cheap. All home owners look for the payback on anything more than the minimum, it is possible this system has a very, very, long payback.

Or could it be that the idea of a computer controlling parts of your house, including opening and closing external openings, is at odds with our ideas on security, and our fears of someone being able to hack in? (Both in a digital sense and the good old analogue way with a crowbar).

May be we just don’t like the idea of closing all the windows, leaving the house, walking back in and opening the windows again, every time something goes wrong with the system.

What ever the reasons, there is still along way to go with technology integration into our buildings, and more specifically our houses. And the integration of the various independent systems into a unified system.

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