Smart spaces are facilities or public areas outfitted with sensors to collect data that can be used to generate insights about its environmental conditions, the services it provides, and how occupants interact with their environment. These smart spaces insights can be captured in real-time and from historical data, and then used in improving safety, operations, or the experiences of the people using the space.
Take room temperature, for example, smartly a thermostat can adjust conditions to presets, yet a smarter room may determine based on motion sensors and time of day that no one is using the room and then extinguish any lights and adjust temperatures, saving on electrical costs.
A more comprehensive definition of smart spaces should encompass more than the technology that enables them. A smart space, or smart environment, is a paradigm about a person's interaction with her environment. For instance, smart technology is blurring the lines between public space and personal space. Smart digital billboards allow outdoor advertisers to target personal advertisements at pedestrians as they walk by (automated systems update ads based on the real-time stream of data from nearby cell phones), collecting statistics about onlookers, and in the process personalizing what was once a largely anonymous public space.
Smart space paradigms are also shared across regions, such as extending over cities, when enabled by technologies like IoT and 5G wireless that are now capable of monitoring municipal operations using real-time data to bring a level of service to citizens with uncharacteristic efficiency.
Bridging our conceptual understanding of smart space and the physical technology that brings it to life, there is a widely accepted framework that divides smart spaces into three different environments interacting as one: a virtual computing environment, the physical environment, and the human environment.
Using this multi-layered approach to smart space environments (virtual, physical, and human layers), we can categorize smart enabling technologies according to their function.
Connectivity and control technologies enable the virtual aspect of smart space environments. Think everything wireless, 4/5G cellular, BlueTooth, LiFi, ZigBee, etc. Once connected, AI and automation software, operating locally or in the cloud, can work through the remaining physical and human layer devices, collecting and processing data to create the 'smart' effect that brings smart spaces to life. Common virtual layer technologies include:
Data capture is an integral aspect of smart spaces and is needed to feed information to the smart algorithms to make intelligent decisions about changing conditions. Primarily, sensor devices provide the means to fill the data pipeline within the location. But, in the example of smart factories, global data may be factored into local decisions. Technologies deployed in the physical layer include:
Human smart devices, like smartphones, are ideal interfaces between humans and smart spaces. But new technology is opening opportunities for developers to build for a different class of smart consumers. The following lists common human smart devices, and possible future interfaces that could change how we think about smart spaces, especially in the medical sector.
With these technologies and an evolving sense of interactive spaces, we're a long way from fully responsive environments—imagine Star Trek's holodeck—but today engineers are already piecing together what could be its precursors.
In general, smart spaces technologies aim to improve efficiency, safety, and security, and they have done so remarkably well as can be seen by the deep integration these devices are making into our everyday lives.
These are just a few main benefits of smart spaces. However, smart space applications are only limited by our imagination, and because smart applications and technology are always evolving these environments will continue to undergo paradigm changes and provide novel benefits not yet introduced.
Since any space can be made smarter by installing sensors and processors and connecting them with intelligent software, many smart spaces have become smarter, and new applications are continually adopted. Places near us have become smarter, and so have places we may rarely have on our minds but benefit us in the background regardless.
Smart Homes — In order to make our living environments even more comfortable and efficient, smart homes enable smart spaces to connect many household devices and house systems. Many appliances are now smart, like smart refrigerators or smart ovens, but now home automation can attend to home systems that control lighting, air conditioning, entertainment, even security. It even has a name—domotics.
Smart Buildings — Smart buildings apply many features found in smart homes just at scale. Smart buildings implement smart spaces to interconnected automated building systems that monitor lighting, air conditioning, heating, security and access, parking structures, water meters, power meters, fire systems, boilers or chiller plants, elevators, and more depending on the building. An office building may be made smarter for the purposes of keeping units occupied and costs down, whereas a hospital, with stocks of pharmaceuticals and equipment, may deploy a smart RFID technology to track, secure, and replenish its inventory as needed.
Smart Factory — Smart factories are not a new thing, since many manufacturing industries were the petri dish that 'smart' technology was grown on. Now, the connected smart factory has taken on a smart space paradigm shift towards a digital supply network where many factories and suppliers are interconnected, and smaller units can make decisions based on system-wide data. Considering the extent of globalized supply chains, an automated supply chain results in an agile and efficient operation with less downtime and adaptability to new demands.
Smart Cities — Smart cities are urban areas outfitted with smart space technology for a governance purpose. Smart cities have the potential to impact tens of thousands of people with greater efficiencies. Smart initiatives are already enhancing citizen's lives. Some cities made use of smart spaces by digitizing public documents to be made available online, in order to improve their constituents' digital inclusion. Many cities also have light pole initiatives that mount and hide antennas that bring digital access to their people.
Smart spaces need to gather, transmit, store, manage, and analyze environment sensor data, to send alerts and report insights to the managers of these spaces. Hitachi Vantara provides end-to-end solutions that abstract the smart space data processes, solutions that include consulting services, and the following products:
Video Intelligence Devices:
Lumada Video Insights:
With over 100 years of experience in operational technology and over 60 years in information technology, Hitachi Vantara has unique expertise across industries as diverse as government and industrial machinery and systems, to manufacturing consumer products, IT infrastructure, and operating rail systems around the world. With this expertise, Hitachi Vantara "drinks its own champagne", deploying innovations and technologies in our own factories and operations, while offering our expertise and products to our customers. Hitachi Vantara Smart Spaces leverages Hitachi Vantara's strength in digital technology and innovation, along with our expertise across industries to help our customers reach their desired outcomes, whether that's enhancing customer experience, maximizing worker health and safety, improving public safety, optimizing manufacturing processes, and efficiency, or better operating a transit system. We're here to help, with the expertise and technology needed to help make your space a smart space.