An IoT Authoring Tool for a Connected Future

September 14, 2016 in Connected World
Bridget Deely
Marketing Specialist

At MAYA, we describe the Internet of Things (IoT) a bit differently than most. IoT at MAYA encompasses more than interactions between devices and the cloud. As we move closer towards a connected world with a Trillion-node network, the Internet of Things will expand to include people and places. More devices will directly communicate with each other, as opposed to just connecting to the internet. The Smart Campus initiative is a step closer to this connected future.

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), in partnership with Bosch and MAYA Design’s MakerSwarm, are turning CMU’s campus into a platform for intelligent buildings with Smart Campus initiative.

Smart Campus, an Intelligent Environment

Smart Campus enables sensors, devices, and buildings to communicate with one another through an internet cloud system called Sensor Andrew. This web of internet-connected things has transformed CMU’s campus into a commercial scale, intelligent environment that can do anything from adjusting the temperature in a room based on occupancy to finding an available parking space to identifying maintenance issues.

Bosch and CMU have had a close working relationship since 1990, bringing the best of academic and business expertise together in a research setting. CMU’s campus acts as a platform for Bosch to test new technology and innovation to scale. So in 2014, Bosch and CMU applied for the Department of Energy grant to fund the Smart Campus infrastructure development and further experiment with IoT technologies on a commercial level.

A User Interface Built for IoT

However, as they worked through development, they realized they needed a user interface (UI) that could interact with the infrastructure they established. MakerSwarm, an application produced by MAYA, offered an intuitive solution to Smart Campus’s front-end problem. It allows users to identify surrounding internet-connected devices, and create a basic app that remotely triggers the function of those devices.

“[Bosch] has had a relatively long relationship with MAYA, and when we saw what was going on with MakerSwarm and the idea that it’s a way to connect basically any internet of things enable devices together, in a way that allows you to dynamically build applications on the fly [and] is very intuitive for the user, we saw that as something that would be a potential win for contributing to that user interface.” Charles Shelton, Research Engineer at Bosch’s Research and Technology Center and Project Lead for Smart Campus explains. The user-friendly design provides visualizations that help you connect devices without code, empowering users to create links between multiple devices, assign capabilities, then activate without a design or engineering background. Bosch saw the potential impact MakerSwarm could have on creating an intelligent environment, allowing users to take advantage of the sensors and actuators installed in the buildings.

“In general I think our location here in Pittsburgh has been a rare opportunity. I think we were on the [cutting edge] in terms of collaborating with Carnegie Mellon University and also with MAYA on these kind of internet technologies and internet based ideas. And now we see Pittsburgh has become more of an up and coming tech hub and a lot of companies are moving in, and I think that this gives us some vindication that we’ve been in the right place all along, and I think we’re going to continue to do great work here.”
Charles Shelton
Senior Research Engineer at Bosch’s Research and Technology Center

Balancing Efficiency and Comfort

According to Bosch, one of the major goals of this initiative was to improve energy efficiency, while making users comfortable in the process. “One way to save energy is not running the heating at all during the winter. It would save you a lot of energy. [However,] your building users would definitely complain about that.”, says Shelton. With that in mind, the sensor and actuators installed throughout the buildings track environmental data and develop a more finely tuned control systems to balance energy efficiency and user comfort. The information collected can be used to go back and develop prototypes to model user comfort, how they use space, and building efficiencies.

“The Smart Campus-MakerSwarm partnership is a great example of taking something from our labs and seeing the opportunities that stem from real world application. It has allowed us to not only partner with world leaders in technology, like Bosch and Carnegie Mellon University, but also quickly apply MAYA’s research on the connected world to a scalable platform.”
Dutch MacDonald
President & CEO at MAYA Design

As for the future of intelligent environments, Bosch plans to commercialize the ideas researched in Smart Campus and turn them into products. Smart Campus acted as an iterative, scaled, prototype that allowed Bosch to understand what works best, conduct peer research, and build proofs of concept and application prototypes. As they move towards a future that encompasses a Trillion-node network of connected things, Bosch has opened a new Innovation Center in Pittsburgh to continue its research in IoT technology.

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