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More Efficient Building Systems Where RFID Antennas Can Communicate with HVAC Ducts

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © midnightcomm | Flickr

As current buildings make their way toward becoming interactive architectural environments that increasingly gain capabilities to adapt, you can begin to imagine how that kind of building’s communication system will act like a “nervous system” that travels throughout the building infrastructure. But you may ask yourself, just how might this “wiring” take place? And how can we prevent that communication infrastructure from being redundant both in the labor it takes to build, and in its ability to sync with dispersed sensors throughout the building.

According to the article entitled Turning HVAC into RFID, HVAC ducts are a very useful way to create a building wide antenna that can serve to help process incoming information from RFID antenna sensor networks that control various systems within a building. What this all means is that most of a building’s nervous system can go from being wired, to being wireless.

As was pointed out in the article, we have many systems within a building that work from sensors, including temperature control, fire and security systems. And while such wireless communication may prove to work very well for certain building needs, it may not quite work as well for others. But just as with any new technological ideas, there will be limitations and challenges. However, finding ways to make communication more efficient within smart buildings, is a step in the right direction.

Adding Functionality by Enhancing Your Building’s “Nervous System”

Today many buildings are rather static, depending on their own occupants to make them “operable” by physically adjusting so many of their components. Yes, buildings today have an array of wired technologies which give them certain capabilities; but still, they ultimately depend mostly on occupant control points — where an occupant must either go to a control device to make changes (like with a temperature thermostat), or be notified via some type of an alarm system (like a security system which may or may not be “tied” to a centralized call center to get help).

However, I think that we can take things much further, so that building communication systems do more than simply react with one-off solutions. For instance, what if a building system could use it sensors to detect patterns in occupants’ daily activities by analyzing multiple building systems at once (they could cross-talk) and then correlate those patterns with particular goals which an occupant (or architect) has specified? In this case, a building with an optimized nervous system could make better sense of those patterns to more efficiently and effectively make environmental changes for that occupant (or group of occupants) in real time.

Thus, bridging the gap between sensors and their central communication channels within a building by making more systems wireless will allow for increased opportunity by which designers can embed their sensors strategically to obtain necessary cues that might make an adaptive building work closer to its optimal potential. And, as with most wireless technologies, there will come a certain amount of added freedom for both the architect and their building occupants — if designed well.

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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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