Researchers expect the global market for smart homes and buildings to grow by nearly 30 percent annually from now through 2020. Today, commercial facility managers who want to add smart technology to their buildings are retrofitting facilities on an ad hoc basis by buying point solutions separately. But with the growing demand for connected facility products, it makes sense to start constructing new commercial spaces with smart building automation in mind. 

Construction executives who want to leverage the popularity of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart building technologies are partnering with tech and robotics companies to create commercial buildings with pre- installed smart technology as a way to attract upscale buyers. Collaboration between technology companies and the construction sector opens up an exciting new market for smart buildings with full-suite automation built in. 

Creating a Smart Commercial Space 
Energy-saving thermostats and lighting solutions that could be controlled via smartphones were among the first smart “home” products deployed at corporate campuses. Now, robotics are making strong inroads into the consumer market, evolving from a luxury item to a domestic necessity for an increasingly tech-savvy consumer base. Facilities managers also are seeing the potential for time and money savings in smart facility products. 

For example, robotic vacuum companies are pursuing partnerships with luxury residential and commercial developers to build in docking stations for vacuums in condominiums and office complexes—similar to how dishwashers and other everyday appliances are built in. By doing so, construction companies can create a seamless, modern, clutter-free vision for commercial real estate buyers. 

Seamless Connectivity and Machine Learning
 
Before considering a partnership with smart product developers, it’s important for construction executives to understand the smart technology market. It goes far beyond basic electronics to include products with advanced features such as machine learning, IoT connectivity for data capture and interactive usability. Examples include smart thermostats that sense when people come and go, and that learn when to turn on and off to maintain optimal temperatures and energy efficiency. 

Smart facility products are highly efficient, adaptive and endlessly customizable; in short, they learn more about the user the more the product is used. With cloud-based software and integrated apps, these products can adapt to multiple users, which contributes to their longevity. 

But to achieve that level of longevity, smart machines must be seamlessly integrated into the residential or commercial space and ready to add value immediately upon purchase or tenancy. Rather than facilities managers purchasing point solutions such as intelligent lighting and door sensors, the building should include these items as part of the total package. 

The Business Case 

Savvy commercial construction executives already have adapted to an increasingly tech-forward and sustainability-focused world by creating buildings that seamlessly deliver WiFi connectivity and efficient heating, cooling and plumbing services. Today, tech-focused buyers are attracted to properties that go beyond the basics. 


Ali Afrouzi is lead technologist at bObsweep. For more information, visit bobsweep.com