Early adopting contractors eager to integrate new tools for competitive advantage, greater efficiency, or the ability to stand out from the crowd are, increasingly, incorporating use of connected, communicating, and smart solutions and devices in new projects. Here are a couple of Internet of Things solutions that connect devices and communicate valid and often valuable information.
First, a solution that combines the use of smartphones and a software app. Sold directly to the end user (building owner), it gives management of commercial buildings more control over comfort levels of occupants by gathering real-time insights that can refine environmental conditions and optimize workspaces.
The Honeywell Vector Occupant App, buildingsolutions.honeywell.com, is a multi-functional app that, used with associated smartphones, connects building managers and occupants to their workplaces and, through its cloud-based infrastructure and a collection of analytics, enhances safety, efficiency and cost effectiveness of building operations, enabling greater comfort for the occupants through enhanced insights and control. The app, which is scalable for use in a single building or across multiple locations, works with Apple and Android products.
Working independently of underlying building systems, the app can be used by facility administrators to manage user identification and credentials. Users who download the app must receive an invite from the administrator to gain access to its features. In addition to utilizing smart phones to unlock access controlled doors, building occupants can raise requests to indicate discomfort with workspace temperature that can prompt real-time adjustments from facility management instead of having to seek out a facility manager to notify. Facility managers can, with the benefit of immediate insight, make adjustments quickly that can improve occupant comfort.
Solution features include: digital identification (digital photo ID issued in seconds), which eliminates the need for plastic badges or temporary tags and sidesteps the issue of outdated photo IDs by providing an up-dated photograph; convenient mobile-based access control that can open doors from greater distances than traditional key cards and fobs (and, theoretically, increase building security by controlling proxy access because most employees do not share phones); and one-click hot/cold calls that enable occupants to indicate when work area is too hot or too cold, along with confirmation that the issues are being addressed.
Here’s another solution, this time for heating and cooling. The Rheem EcoNet Smart Home System, www.rheem.com, can do everything that a communicating thermostat can do in terms of controlling a system and its requirements through programming, scheduling, diagnostics and maintenance requirements. The system, which features a control center in the home for homeowner convenience, works with select high-efficiency Rheem and Ruud home comfort products.
EcoNet utilizes apps for smartphones and tablets. Homeowners, with their apps, can control temperatures and set and reset their systems remotely, when on vacation or any time.
Eco-Net enabled products in a home are connected through standard HVAC wiring. Contractors have the option of adding an EcoNet WiFi Kit, so the homeowner can access everything remotely through a free mobile app. Control is handled either in the home at the wall mounted EcoNet control center (the hub), which replaces a conventional thermostat, or from anywhere, through the homeowner mobile app.
The system is backward compatible with existing communicating Rheem HVAC products and also forward compatible in that the system has the ability to learn as new products are introduced and plugged into the system. EcoNet will download from the new equipment information about that new technology and integrate it into the solution.
EcoNet utilizes apps for smartphones and tablets. Homeowners, with their apps, can control temperatures and set and reset their systems remotely, when on vacation or any time. Contractor contact details in the EcoNet app can be automatically displayed when equipment alerts occur, so the homeowner can easily click and call their preferred contractor right away when an issue occurs. EcoNet is sold to contractors as a system solution. Training is available for contractors before they sell it.
Out of the office much of the day and need hard copy documents? The compact, lightweight, wireless Epson WorkForce WF-100 mobile printer,www.epson.com, offers on the go ability to print professional quality invoices, presentations, and contracts on plain paper and 4” x 6” borderless black and white and color photos on photo paper.
The printer, weighing 3.5 pounds and using a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery that charges via USB or the included AC adapter, features a ¼” color LCD with a convenient control panel for simple set-up and operation. The unit, which includes built-in wireless and Wi-Fi Direct capabilities, prints from an iPad, an iPhone, tablets, laptops, and smartphones. The Wi-Fi Direct mode enables direct communication between the user’s product and computer or other devices without a wireless router or access point.
The Epson Connect suite of free mobile printing solutions offers the ability to print documents, photos, emails, and web pages from remote locations to any Epson Connect-enabled printer, allowing printing, scanning and sharing of files to and from other team members. You can print on any of several paper sizes, ranging from 3.5” x 5” up to 8.5” x 14”. Input paper capacity is 20 sheets plain paper, 1 envelope, or 5 sheets photo paper. Storage dimensions of the printer are 12/2” x 6/1” x 2.4”.
Bill and Patti Feldman write articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products. They can be reached at [email protected].