How do we feel about going to work? One of the ways in which the global pandemic has changed many of our lives is in our attitude to the office. It’s something that futurologists and professors had already been working on for many years anyway. However, the enforced break for many people has provided extra urgency and focus on how smart connected devices will play an even greater role in the workplace in years to come.
We can certainly expect our offices to be safer, more comfortable, more sustainable, and more technologically advanced – and this in turn should enable workers to be more productive. There is also serious business potential here too – estimates suggest that the smart office market will reach some €41.79 million by 2023.*
What we do know already is that the smart office is likely to share many similarities with the smart home. After all, we want many of the same things in both places. With security, for example, ever-improving sensors and cameras inside and outside buildings will deter unwelcome visitors, track all activities, and keep a record of all arriving deliveries and visitors. Facial recognition will be more widespread, while all the important information we need to access will be available to view easily and quickly.
Sensing the dangers
We should feel safer, too. Fire detection technology has grown in its variety of application and stability in recent years thanks to the growing use of artificial intelligence.
This is where Bosch comes in. “Energy and security are two very important office environment areas that Bosch is strong in,” says Robert Lagerstedt, Manager, Software Architecture Bosch Nordic. “AIoT will improve energy efficiency for the office by, for example, making intelligent decisions about energy usage and distribution. Security cameras are often used in the office, and these can be extended with AI-based image analysis that will enable them to detect events such as security breaches and fires in a much quicker and more sensitive way,” he says.
In the Nordic region, the Bosch R&D Center in Lund is part of the development team working on intelligent security cameras, using their experience from the mobile industry to enable AI extensions of the cameras.
“What makes them so efficient is the way they use AI algorithms,” adds Lagerstedt. “The camera can detect smoke much earlier than a traditional smoke sensor as a result. The trained algorithms are now also more advanced making it possible to detect smoke and flames even without visible light and raising an alarm much quicker”.
Facilitating the future
Security and safety aren’t the only aspects where the AIoT technology will play a significant role in the offices of the future though. It will certainly be of great help to facility managers too. With AI-based technology, it will be much easier for them to control heating, cooling, lighting and air purifying systems in a building, as well as know when supplies are low, or if something in the office is broken. Furthermore, by being able to keep rooms at optimal temperatures at all times, they can save energy when they are not being used. Here, sensors will help them pick up room activity, such as temperature and humidity levels, and process that data in the cloud.
How we actually work when we are in the office will also be considerably enhanced by AI and IoT in terms of efficiency and productivity. Everything from report gathering to conference room booking will be faster and easier. AI-driven systems will help project managers and team leaders, for example, access vital information, learn the status of projects in real time and fetch data instantly, which will ultimately help them to make informed decisions much quicker.
Getting the balance right
Enhanced efficiency, better use of space, greater comfort and security are just some of the many ways our offices will become more pleasant environments to work and thrive in, in the years to come. The global pandemic has helped many of us reappraise what we want and need from our working space – after all, many people spend more waking hours in the office than we do in our homes, so it makes perfect sense to do all we can to make it a pleasant experience. And with the help of AIoT, Bosch is well placed to deliver on that promise.