GE has formed a partnership with German technology company EnOcean to bring together GE’s automated building management systems with EnOcean’s battery-free wireless sensor technology. The net result will be the availability of GE’s HabiTEQ systems in locations where it is not possible to install wires or batteries.
HabiTEQ is an integrated system that runs a building’s lighting, heating, ventilation, blinds and security from a central control unit. It can be programmed with a PC and also response to environmental stimulus, changing the heating in a room in response to changes in external temperature, for example. Most HabiTEQ devices are also equipped to measure energy use, to help identify opportunities to reduce costs.
The EnOcean wireless devices are zero maintenance and use energy from ambient heat and light or from a switch being pressed, which makes them an environmentally friendly way of increasing efficiency. Using this wireless technology will make installation of GE’s smart building solutions cheaper and simpler as well as providing other aesthetic and practical benefits such as the ability to fit sensors in historic buildings.
GE Energy has also joined the EnOcean Alliance, a consortium of companies working to develop self-powered wireless monitoring and control systems by establishing common standards.
This news caught my eye because of its win-win appeal. GE’s smart building solution becomes quicker and easier to install with the use of wireless sensors that use no energy and are more aesthetically appealing. The easier, quicker and less obtrusive you can make these sorts of solutions the more likely the uptake, so this seems a step in the right direction.
The companies are also working on common standards. That’s the next issue in line if you want to assure commercial customers that they won’t have to rip it all out and start again some time in the near future.