On our journey to people-powered buildings described in my never-ending stories, I have talked about "Building Whisperers" and "Building Better Building Bots Mindfully" and now, in our September chapter, we conclude that the most important component of the open movement is opening our minds in order to grow them younger.
It is not uncommon for people to have reservations about new and unfamiliar things. Negative preconceptions can color the unfamiliar in a bad light. This is a very limiting notion, however. Being open to different lifestyles and ideas can actually broaden your horizons and enrich you, if you are brave enough to give them a chance.
Being closed-minded can cause you to miss out not only on people and relationships, but also on experiences that may be of great importance. Trying new things is very beneficial and if you are too fearful, you will be missing out. Next time you hear something that you perceive as strange or negative, try to find out a little more about it and see if you don’t change your mind. Most of the time, you can, it’s just a matter of seeing things from a different perspective. It is a great source of personal growth to try to step outside your comfort zone and push the envelope of your understanding.
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” –Eleanor Roosevelt
I scare myself several times a day, every day, learning all that I can while trying to keep an open mind, attempting to grow younger -- which is only possible in my mind.
While whispering, I shouted these words: Those that well understand what I am talking about are younger, and we all need to grow younger to understand. We all need to engage with their digitally raised thoughts to help us understand new ways of thinking and doing old things. The entire industry needs to grow younger while engaging in the discussion of digital disruption.
It is happening and the only thing slowing, and sometimes preventing the necessary radical change, is our existing mindset and fear of the unknown. Yet daily we take giant leaps of faith towards digital transformation in our personal lives.
To add action to my words (while scaring myself a bit), AutomatedBuildings.com is very pleased to introduce this amazing panel of under forty-year-olds for this new first ever DIY Open free education session at AHR Expo 2019 in Atlanta. A very interesting perspective on our future by those now creating it.
Next Generation HVAC Controls: Open Hardware – Open Software - Open Mind.
Session Description: Truly open hardware and software is common in many industries but has only made relatively small inroads in the world of building automation where proprietary solutions still reign supreme. Open standards like BACnet enabled a revolution in open communications, but the vast majority of building automation software and hardware is still closed.
The mass marketing of powerful micro PCs such as the Raspberry Pi brings low-cost computing power to technical professionals and hobbyists alike. Suitable for most field installations, they also provide an excellent training and experimental platform for individuals interested in controls and automation. Coupled with an open protocol in BACnet and an open programming language in Sedona, it only takes the imagination of the systems integrator to define the next generation controller.
There is a need to have low-cost access to BAS data to help engineers with building optimization. Having open source software with the core functionality we need has proven to be a more cost-effective and durable solution to our problems. This is a game changer for our industry, and we’re only starting to see how embracing open source can lead to a tremendous boost in innovation, especially among those organizations with only modest resources at their disposal.
The panel members have provided articles to help open your minds and, yes, scare you a bit each day to understand new ways of thinking about doing old things.
All our free education sessions at AHRExpo Atlanta are designed to open our minds and let us grow younger in them; please join us!
I have been talking about voice as a game changer, but the focus is now moving to self-learning machine vision as the newest cost-effective edge bot capability. This article from Project Haystack Member Calvin Slater, Building Better Bots with Machine Vision is all about creating tomorrow today through opens software, open hardware, and open minds:
In all of the above situations, a video image of the room would do much better and could clear up the confusion and ambiguity that are consequences of using individual discrete sensors. A single inexpensive miniature camera can replace the motion sensor, light level sensor, and access controller. There would be no need to install these separate sensors and clutter up walls and ceiling space, as well as require long wire runs through the walls. Instead of being able to receive only single localized detected values, you can instead view the space in a complete context. A video image of space provides large amounts of contextual data. If only there was a person available to continuously view the video and make the control adjustments all day. Instead of a live person, we can now perform tasks such as these with edge-bots!
This is a perfect use case for the implementation of Machine Vision and Deep Learning in edge devices. Machines are programmed to recognize objects much in the same way we recognize objects; through the use of Neural Networks. Recent advancements in image recognition have allowed not only for the correct recognition of single objects alone by themselves, but also the detection of multiple instances of the same kinds objects in images with other types mixed in. The process by which useful image recognition software is created for use in machine vision is called Deep Learning. This process consists of two stages; training and inference. An artificial software neural network model is created and then trained using standardized data sets.
(Read the complete article to learn how to do this, openly. Start with an open mind, select your open hardware, load open software and watch the edge bot learn and populate its blank open mind!)
Sharing of Custom Sedona Kits, Components and Tools by Zach Netsov of Contemporary Controls discusses how programming will become faster and easier as new, enhanced components deliver new capabilities:
In addition to the ease of programming and continuous improvement of functionality, Sedona provides the best opportunity for creating open and interoperable controllers. Today, Sedona is used as the go-to programming methodology by several controls manufacturers, which brings up the question of compatibility of Kits, Components, and Tools between different Sedona devices from different manufacturers. Sedona does offer compatibility between devices and sharing of Kits, Components, and editor Tools is possible and encouraged by the Sedona Community. Some things need to be considered as we go forward with Sedona.
For those of you unfamiliar with Sedona, here’s a quick history:
Sedona Framework is an open control technology designed to assist system integrators in quickly implementing IP-based building automation programs. Using a drag-and-drop programming methodology, components are interconnected onto a wire sheet and configured to create applications. Originally developed by Tridium, the technology is now championed by a dedicated Sedona community of developers and integrators striving to make Sedona an open control language free of licenses and available to all.
Open Hardware, Open Software, and Building Bots - Making Buildings Aware of What They Need To Be Aware Of by Nicolas Waern, CEO, Go-IoT talks about perhaps the most amazing feature of our new digital environments: their invisibility.
BBB, Building building bots, will definitely be interesting moving forwards and who knows which road it will take. I always say to everyone that technology shouldn’t even be visible. Some say that children of the future will talk to their buildings and expect for the building to talk back.
I have also heard that in modern buildings you would tell the building that you would like to have 22 degrees in whatever space you are in, and it will make it so.
Both of these assumptions fall short of what I think will happen. The thing is, technology should be an enabler to make us more human. And perhaps, we need to make technology more human as well. So the next step would be… what? Saying that you are cold and the building understands your desired temperature based on your personal settings?
No. Even better. The great late 90’s prophet, Ronan Keating, said it best.
“It’s amazing how you can speak right to my heart. Without saying a word you can light up the dark… You say it best when you say nothing at all.”
What I mean by this is that you won’t say “turn down the temperature by 2 degrees.”
You won’t say you are cold and the building knows what you want.
Absolutely not. Technology will never be visible to the user;
The building, and everything around you, will know that we have been to the gym, it will know that we are tired because a camera can detect it and compare it with our heart rate, our blood pressure, sugar levels, etc, etc. And it has already prepared a succulent meal together with the robot chef powered by IBM Watson. The building will know how we feel, what our needs are, much faster than we would be able to tell it what to do. If anything, the building might want to give us some examples based on what it knows we want. But from our perspective, the interaction would be very sporadic at best.
More exciting news from the Eclipse Volttron Workshop 2018. VOLTTRON will from now on be managed by the Eclipse Foundation. Nigel David, BSc, MSc, PhD, Lead Researcher, SES Consulting Inc. explains further:
VOLTTRON is an innovative open source software platform that helps users rapidly develop and deploy new control solutions for a myriad of applications in buildings, renewable energy systems and electricity grid systems. Developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with funding from the Department of Energy, VOLTTRON can be downloaded from the not-for-profit Eclipse Foundation that will steward it as an open source software platform. As part of this move, PNNL has joined the Eclipse Foundation, a global organization with more than 275 members.
Here's quick history of VOLTTRON, The Edge of VOLTTRON’s Sword by Brad White, Principle with SES Consulting:
Back in 2010, as part of the “Future Power Grid Initiative” project, a team from The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) set out to develop a software platform for the Smart Grid. Specifically, the platform would enable transactions between electric vehicle chargers and the grid so the homeowner and the utility could benefit from the energy stored in a parked car battery. At the time, no existing platform was available that met the security or resource management requirements for such a use case.
In 2013, version 1.0 of the platform was demonstrated in an instrumented house with an EV. It was at around this time that the team broadened the goals of the software project, made it open source, and gave it a name: VOLTTRON. VOLTTRON would now independently manage a wide range of applications, such as HVAC systems, electric vehicles, distributed energy or entire building loads, leading to improved operational efficiency. Any good robot would do the same, of course.
Fast forward to 2017; version 4.1 has just been released. Many wide-ranging application concepts have indeed been proven with the platform. One might even say that it is becoming a veritable IoT platform built on a secure cyber foundation; a legacy from the original grid connected use case and the core strengths of the PNNL team. The pillars of this new platform are flexibility - meeting the requirements for a varied set of solution spaces, and usability - easily accessible to both users and developers. The software stack is available free on GitHub to put onto a small form factor computer and create your very own “edge device.”
Have we started to open your mind to the advantages of an open future? Open software, open hardware; we now just need to open our minds in which we can grow younger on our way to a better future.