The Internet of Things (IoT) has become the byword in the world of information technology in recent times. Confusion , however, prevails among laypersons on how this can be deployed in daily life. The fact remains that most people are already benefitting from the IoT without realising it—via apps. Today, mobiles and the online realm are awash with myriad apps for all purposes—be it reservations, payments, downloads or building facilities management. Usage of mobile apps is soaring globally. A 2014 Nielsen study noted that mobile users in the US spend 54% more time each month using apps compared to two years ago. And ABI Research estimates that globally 40.9 billion devices will be IoT-enabled by 2020.
Nonetheless, the plethora of apps is itself a challenge. It is important to cite specific cases to illustrate the workings and benefits of any app. For instance, finding an app resource to handle different services in a single app was a barrier in itself. But this challenge no longer exists. An app now permits building residents—whether it’s a healthcare, hospitality, educational, residential or other structure—access to various available services via the mobile.
The app expands access to building systems beyond building management system professionals to employees and patrons, boosting occupants’ experiences and personal accountability to increase operational and energy efficiency. By integrating with existing building software, the app delivers users personalised access through their mobile devices to the building systems they use as per their role in the building. For instance, if the building is a hotel, front desk personnel can use the app to monitor room occupancy and adjust room temperature settings to prepare for the arrival of guests.
Meanwhile, guests can use the app to control lighting and entertainment systems and request room service. When used by businesses, this app can offer differentiated experiences for customers, employees and patrons. As its widget library grows, the app has the capacity to expand to other systems, seamlessly aggregating data and control via multiple systems and services in a single, easy-to-use application. When users are empowered with such a high level of control and convenience, it helps organisations improve occupant comfort and satisfaction and differentiate themselves from rivals by providing value-added amenities.
If the building was a hospital, this app would be loaded with specific widgets meant to address the needs of patients. Gaining full control over their room environment, patients would feel more at home, since this improves comfort levels and facilitates faster healing. Patients can adjust the room temperature, lighting and even window blinds without moving about or calling a nurse or other assistant. They could also control their smart TV, call for the nurse or gauge noise levels in the room, all via the single interface on a smart device.
For hospitals and healthcare providers, such a secure, fully-integrated, easy-to-install solution meets the needs of their users and ensures improved patient satisfaction. With the app supported by multiple devices and platforms, including laptops and tablets and the iOS, Android and Windows operating systems, individuals and institutions couldn’t have asked for more.
The writer is vice president – eco-buildings and partner business, Schneider Electric India