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When Evolution Turns to Revolution

By Ken Sinclair

Last month’s theme, "The Self Learning Edge Revolution," has been well received and has started some interesting discussions online on social media and offline in the coffee shops and back rooms of the industry. What are they talking about? Are we poised for revolution?

We are aware that what we may be talking about is just extremely rapid evolution. Yes, that is correct, but when the blur of this development catches our industry flat-footed it looks a lot like the revolution to those not keeping up with what is happening in the world of IoT and machine self-learning.

With an empowered population participating in the self-learning edge device maker culture, the movement has the feel of a revolution. The DIY builder uses new open tools to bring ideas to fruition quickly and at a low cost to keep the rapid evolution moving forward at a speed that blurs into revolution.

I was just talking about this last month, but several people are doing what we are talking about. We have opened a lot of maker’s and creator's doors, and they are well into the creation of the new breed of self-learning edge products.

In the below, article the spirit of the revolution is encapsulated in the quote, "If you can dream it, you can do it."

Creators and Makers. “Once we have tested and allowed a few of our friends to play with the controller we will be looking to fund a much larger run with the final design. Kickstarter or Indiegogo will be chosen to help us get the controller out to more individuals.” — Clayton Plymill and George Young

As I was writing this piece, this LinkedIn Pulse has just been posted and provides a very similar message.

"IoT: Imagine It First" published on October 1, 2016, by Rick Huijbregts, managing director americas, digital transformation and solutions, Cisco. “It was Gene Roddenberry [creator of Star Trek] who was able to"imagine it first" and envision digital capabilities that now have become common technologies.”

So what are some of the changes driving the self-learning edge revolution? In this review, I provide summary with linkage to some resources.

• Stuff that is open and available to all that scales on an IoT level, which allows makers rapidly scalable development at low cost; things that have always presented a barrier to our closed industry that is manipulated by a few.

• Connection to the Millennial maker culture. We need to create an open path to our industry. We need to work hard to be open accessible not proprietary and completely closed as we have in the past. Our future depends on our connection to new folks with new IoT ideas. The danger is if we are not involved, they will engineer work arounds that will go around our industry.

• “Thin” cloud: builds an application on general services, built-in integrations as-a-service to other products to allow leveraging by the maker culture.

• "Thicker" cloud by majors’ example (GE and Bosch) to create open-source industrial IoT platform https://www.siliconrepublic.com/machines/iiot-ge-bosch-open-source

• Smart city. Cities — new and old, large and small — are looking for ways to differentiate themselves and provide stimulating environments for their constituents to generate economic wealth; be healthy and safe; learn and evolve; have cultural richness and sustainability; be productive; innovate; all while staying environmentally conscientious.

• Smart grid and the combined market for energy software in smart buildings (comprised of enterprise energy management, BECS supervisory software and smart building to smart grid interface software) will rise to nearly $10 billion by 2020, with related software on the smart grid side growing at a healthy 12 percent CAGR to nearly $2 billion by 2020.

• Self or machine learning. This article explores the significance and evolution of IoT edge analytics. Since the author believes that hardware capabilities will converge for large vendors, IoT analytics will be the key differentiator.

PMML (Predictive Model Markup Language) becomes important for the ability to deploy models in multiple locations. According to Wikipedia: “PMML is an XML-based predictive model interchange format…. PMML provides a way for analytic applications to describe and exchange predictive models produced by data mining and machine learning algorithms. It supports common models such as logistic regression and feedforwards neural networks.”

While I am focused on an industry trend that is close, Therese Sullivan focuses on the global parts or factors driving the bigger picture revolution: Climate Action, Digitalization and the Opportunity to Reenergize the Buildings Industry.

The article closes with this comment: “The big companies are defining their terrain in this new era of Climate Action like snow grooming machines on a ski slope in a blizzard.  But they are leaving plenty of space for innovative start-ups to roll their own snowballs through this landscape to amass a growing business of their own.... I’m sure that metaphor came from me hoping that Northern California will get sufficient snow in the winter again, once we start taking action to reduce the earth’s GHG blanket.”

The below interview with Alper Uzmezler, CEO, BASSG adds more personal views about rapid evolution shifting to revolution.

“Sinclair:  How would you describe this moment in the building automation industry?

“Üzmezler:  We are at a transition moment that is as revolutionary as the changeover from pneumatic controls to DDCs. This time the building controls industry is entering the era of Machine Learning and AI. EACs are an enabling technology to the autonomous building. Their robust versatile software stack, next-gen mobile hardware platform, and affordable price point will mean that they'll be the platform of choice for building commissioning and optimization experts. Training data for AI starts with such experts. They will place EACs wherever they are needed to capture, analyze and move the ‘right' data from the edge to the enterprise, to a cloud server dedicated to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithm development.”

This article provides a similar message framing the revolution as: Digital Transformation: Why it's important to your organization? — Marc Petock, vice president, marketing, Lynxspring & Connexx Energy.

“Digital transformation is changing and reshaping our business world.  Just as the industrial revolution revolutionized entire sectors of the economy, so is digital transformation. It is changing the landscape in which buildings operate today and will continue to do so.

“Digital transformation can be defined as the acceleration of business and operational activities, processes, competencies, and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact in a strategic and prioritized way. Furthermore, digital transformation aggregates OT and IT practices into a common platform of people, processes, best practices, and services specifically designed to deliver critical business and operational needs and priorities in a cost-effective and timely manner.

“While past technological revolutions were driven by hardware and software applications, digital transformation for us is driven by edge devices that are smarter and more powerful, the Cloud, analytics, and data enlightenment.

If you are able, please join our free education sessions at AHRExpo Las Vegas. The complete program is at this URL: http://www.automatedbuildings.com/news/sep16/reviews/160821040101ahrexpo.html

Please join us face2face or provide your observation below this article or follow our social media threads and comments, or create your discussions on social media to help us all guide and better define the changes driving the self-learning edge revolution.

Ken Sinclair is the founder, owner, and publisher of an online resource called AutomatedBuildings.com. He writes a monthly column for FacilitiesNet.com about what is new in the Internet of Things (IoT) for building automation.

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posted on 10/13/2016