Building automation and security technology are two very on-trend terms in the world of building equipment. The latest developments were presented in lectures during the week-long Future Days event of the Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin, the Fritz Haber Institute and the Technology Foundation Berlin. Workshops provided a better understanding of the background to these technologies and expert forums offered the opportunity to exchange views on the milestones achieved. The common thread for the whole week was the Internet of Things (IoT).

As the name suggests, the IoT describes the networking of everyday things with each other or with a chosen user software, be it an app or a browser. These things, so-called “smart things”, are everyday items such as coffee machines, refrigerators, lamps, mailboxes, etc., which collect data through implemented sensors, process it and “act” (perform tasks) according to it, or simply communicate information about a certain status via a selected user software.

Lecture Highlights

Excursion: Digital Train Station – The Internet of Things Network in Train Stations

ADAM is the Deutsche Bahn’s (DB) first IoT project. Today, over 3000 networked lifts and staircases report their status in real time.

Passengers can use an app to find out in advance which lifts or escalators are active or whether barrier-free access is generally available at the station. This information is also very useful internally. A technician is notified which lifts and escalators are faulty, so that failures are transmitted in real time and are not discovered during the next tour. The respective malfunctions will also be reported immediately in the future, so that the technician can directly take the correct spare parts and tools to the site, which saves a considerable amount of time.

Excursion to Cisco “OpenBerlin” on the Euref-Campus

A building that “thinks” and independently controls and adjusts its equipment depending on the occupancy status is not only comfortable but also energy-saving. It is convenient to enter your office while the light is on and the brightness is adjusted to the amount of daylight entering, and at the same time to observe how the heating is turned on in winter and the air conditioning in summer. As you pass by, you take the freshly brewed coffee, which the coffee machine has started to make when you entered the room, with you to your desk. The lighting is adjusted several times throughout the day, and each time the window is opened, the heater reduces its output because the sensors on the window transmit the information.

It presents an ideal image of everyday working life through a networked building that allows us to focus exclusively on our work. But the ideas go further. Not only should the building and its end devices communicate with each other. What about the building’s direct networking with the user? We are already speaking about a time when smartphones and tablets are no longer needed. Everyday future life: the human body becomes a terminal device thanks to an implemented chip. The networking between man and building takes place in a direct way. The building is controlled with the help of speech recognition and the keyboard on the desk is no longer necessary, because “text by thinking” will simplify communication.

The beautiful new world?

Workshops & Expert Forums

Necessities or just nice-to-haves?

The attempt to digitalize our everyday life ever more is justified by our wish to make life simpler or easier.

The example of the electric window regulator in a car was presented. There was a time when you could open and close the windows in a car by manually winding a crank. Today there’s nothing special about keeping a button pressed and wait for the window to open automatically. We obviously didn’t need it back then, because rotating the crank led to the same goal, but it was a nice-to-have. It was in fact so nice that it became established and today it’s hard to imagine life without it.

Figure 1: acaMail – Project of the Computer Engineering course at the Beuth University of Applied Sciences


So what about the networked mailbox that becomes our contact person?

This is the acaMail mailbox that has been upgraded from a simple mailbox to a postal information point. The area on which a posted letter lands has been equipped with several sensors that can determine that mail has arrived and how big it is. This information is then sent by e-mail to the owners to notify them of the receipt of the letter.

Having said that, is this gadget a must-have? At first sight this box looks like a gimmick. Why do I need it when I can check the mailbox myself when I enter the office or apartment?


Figure 2: A HeatMap – created by students of the Beuth University for Applied Sciences

The HeatMap is a woven coloured floor plan of a building or part of a building. Each room on the HeatMap is networked with a sensor in the real room of the building and regularly sends temperature data to the HeatMap, which then displays it in colour. The colours are assigned to the room, depending on the temperature, on the basis of a colour temperature scale. This allows a time-dependent temperature curve to be created, which makes it easier to identify wasted heating energy and introduce optimisation potential in a more targeted manner.

Through this efficient data acquisition, the HeatMap could contribute to the energy management system according to ISO 50001.


As fascinating as all these technical possibilities may be in the future, we should always question ourselves to which extent these technologies really take us forward and whether we are not plunging ourselves into an irreversible technical dependency.