FRIDAY FUNNY: SimCity…For Buildings!

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Posted by Heidi Schwartz 
Photo: Forbes

Photo: Forbes

In mid-2011, Siemens launched its Plantville game for those interested in plant management simulation games. A few years later, the company released Power Matrix, a game that examined energy usage strategies in make believe commercial applications. Both of these games reinforce findings from a report by IMS Research that revealed a growing trend in building automation systems towards photorealism and increased end user interaction. The “gamification” of the graphical user interface (GUI) is shaping the way these systems are being developed and used. For decades, spreadsheets offered the main tool to present data from the building management system. While using spreadsheets to display building data has benefits, it limits how data can be presented and how user-friendly the system is. Sam Grinter, market analyst at IMS Research comments, “In terms of user interfaces, building automation is playing catch-up with the rest of the electronics industry. This change in direction over the last six years towards photorealism and gamification of graphical user interfaces is a result of growing end user expectation.” End users expect their building automation systems to be as simple to understand as their smart phones, tablets, and other entertainment systems. This prompted the introduction of 3D graphics and animations to building management systems. These graphics are increasingly being used on public displays in schools, colleges and offices. The public use of displays makes systems more interactive and helps to raise awareness for energy efficiency. Grinter continues, “A key barrier for photorealism is the building management system itself. High resolution graphics require greater processing power and the current crop of building management systems often limit the quality of graphics and the complexity of animations. There is a disconnect between controls companies and graphics providers over the importance of photorealistic GUIs. For the graphics to become more photorealistic, the controls and graphics companies must strengthen their working relationship.” The increasing movement to photorealism and the gamification of GUIs is just one of the many trends affecting the market for value added services in intelligent building.

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