Spurred by the post-pandemic hybrid work model, commercial office building owners and managers today are re-engineering their properties to more efficiently use building infrastructure to support the health, safety, and comfort of employees while they are in the office. Research has shown that office buildings that offer the best combination of efficiency, comfort and safety will command the highest rents and the greatest occupancy.
Advanced sensor technology can help realize these outcomes for facility professionals by providing them with actionable data to make informed decisions that can make the hybrid office experience a better one for occupants while optimizing efficiency and space.
Addressing changes in occupant density
Office occupation is now less dense, with a greater focus on collaboration areas where employees can gather and share ideas and insights. There is an emphasis on improved personal comfort to increase employee satisfaction when present, to create an attractive alternative to working from home. As offices have less traffic, there is a need for increased monitoring for health and safety purposes to ensure employee wellbeing. Meanwhile, offices must be managed more efficiently to keep costs in line with evolving expectations in a very competitive market for tenants.
Considering these changes, there is plenty of scope to improve existing building utility services. Lighting can be modulated to be brighter in occupied work areas and meeting spaces and less bright in unused spaces, for example. Heating and air conditioning can be optimized according to where people are located and gathered. Practices such as social distancing require an even better understanding of employee location and movement.
Deploying advanced sensors for improved occupant experience
RF sensor systems transmit radio frequency signals and receive reflections from objects in their field of view. Solid-state radar sensors typically use a wide beam transmitter and receiver array. The radar system uses the differences in frequency and phase in the signals received in the array to determine the direction and travel of the reflections and hence the location of an object. Through this analysis, occupants can be located and counted, and their respiration and heartbeat rates can be observed without violating their expectations of privacy.
60 GHz RF sensors are small (a module is typically a couple of square inches) and consume very little power (under a watt). They can be independently mounted to monitor an existing office space, or they can be collocated with lighting units or other infrastructure in a new or retrofitted office space.
A 3D sensor mounted on the ceiling processes information in x-, y- and z-axes and is well suited to address open office spaces. A 2D sensor mounted on the ceiling processes information in x- and z-axes and is more appropriate for linear spaces such as hallways. A 2D sensor can also be mounted on a wall to provide horizontal coverage. Sensors can be installed to cover the whole office space, or to regions of interest. In either scenario, comprehensive coverage can be achieved.
Sensors enable all aspects of our lives
The number of connected IoT devices is growing exponentially and expected to grow from 16.7 billion active endpoints in 2023 to 29.7 billion globally in 2027, according to IoT Analytics. Sensors convert physical phenomena into a measurable digital signal, with information which can then be displayed, read, or processed to make our lives easier and safer. Without sensor technology, there would be no IoT at all.
By integrating RF sensors into the commercial office space, building owners and managers can be equipped with the information that they need to make the office environment more welcoming, safe and efficient for occupants.