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New smart sensors are a multifaceted fix for office woes

| August 20, 2014

It may sound like the miracle pill of the 9-to-5 world, but hear us out: New sensor technology can save energy, track employees, and perhaps even improve worker morale. A startup company called Enlightened has developed wireless heat and motion tracking systems to make a heat map of employee movements and more effectively adjust office temperatures, reports Co.Exist.

The company explains the premise behind the system: “The Enlightened system securely and anonymously collects and mines unique environmental, occupancy, and activity data to deliver advanced analytics that are used to improve lighting efficiency, productivity, and profitability enterprise-wide.” The system can apparently save up to 70 percent in energy costs, and it’s currently in use in more than 30 million square feet of commercial real estate.

office towers

Enlightened’s sensors can adjust lighting and temperature to employee preferences.  From Wanda Gould.

Perhaps most interesting is the startup’s financial plans. Wasted energy is a major financial problem in the U.S. The average large office building can burn up more than $100,000 in electricity yearly, and 20 percent of all energy consumed in the U.S. is for commercial buildings. Improved heating, cooling and lighting systems are necessary for businesses to reduce their environmental impact, but can also be pricey investments.

Rather than requiring customers to pay upfront for the installation of a new system, Enlightened charges a percentage of the amount they save on their monthly energy bills. Enlightened will take out a loan based on the estimate the customer will save by using the system. Enlightened takes a percentage of the savings. (This financing option is available to large companies, which see savings immediately; while smaller companies pay for the system and earn savings over time.)

Enlightened’s first product is a wireless network of sensors, installed every 100 square feet, that provide targeted lighting. “Walking across the floor at 7 at night, if you need to walk to the printer, the lights simply turn on around you and in front of you, almost as if it’s magic,” explains Jonathan Buckley of the company.

Enlightened is also working on incorporating heating and cooling systems to immediately adjust temperatures in certain areas of the office. Plus, as Co.Exist reports, “By sensing body heat as employees moving around the space, the system can also help companies understand how they might better arrange their offices.” Future features of the system may even allow execs to visualize how employees, or departments, interact with each other.

But what about its role in worker satisfaction? Enlightened found that, at one test in a large company, employees worked an additional hour and a half after the new system was installed, as a result of their space being more comfortable. Enlightened is now developing an app that allows workers to brighten or dim ceiling lights near their own workspace, to increase employee comfort on a cubicle-by-cubicle basis

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Category: New Products, Office courtesy

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