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Smart Environments in the Work Place

So what is a Smart Environment?

Well, that is a good question! Everyone owns a smart phone, some people may even have smart fridges or kettles! But what is a smart environment?

Well according to Mark Weiser of Xerox Parc, a smart environment is “a physical world that is richly and invisibly interwoven with sensors, actuators, displays, and computational elements, embedded seamlessly in the everyday objects of our lives, and connected through a continuous network."

Woah! That might seem a bit technical! But the basic concept is simple: - Everything around you is connected by computers you aren’t even aware of.

So what would this look like?

Smart Environments are already becoming more common. You have probably already heard of Hive, allowing you to control you heating and other electrical appliances like lights from your mobile phone. In relation to Marks statement from above, this would cover your actuators (eg. The heating or lights) and the displays (eg. Your phone).

But Why?

There are many reasons for smart environment, although some people would argue it’s just technology for technology’s sake! But I would argue this is not just the case! Saving energy by collecting real-time data and adjusting the heating and lighting on a room by room basis is not a new idea, however imagine being able to do this and collect statistics and find trends with this to.

Security and safety is another big area that smart environments aim to tackle. Tracking movement and doors that are opened will provide important information. This allows you to track people, who are where they shouldn’t be, or locate people who have failed to escape in a fire. Checking to so see if a kettle has been turned onto can allow to know an elderly relative is up and about without needing to visit.

So how could this be used in the work place?

Well, the ability to precisely control the heating certainly wouldn’t go a miss in most offices!

For smaller companies using a system like Hive to help keep heating costs down might well be a good option.

But smart environments really come into their own for large building owners. Being able to control the lights, heating and possibly even plugs and other actuators centrally would be a huge advantage saving on man power and time to do these things manually possibly over several floors.

I, love the idea of turning the kettle on without getting up. If only the smart environments could make my cups of tea too!


Smart Environments are slowly becoming more popular though products like Hive. I want you to have a think how could your company benefit from a smart environment?

Send me an email, let me know your thoughts – toby.harley@milesb50.sg-host.com. If you have any questions I will be answering them in a future blog which also aims to eliminate paranoia around these "Smart" systems.