Bosch employee canteen in Singapore gets benefit of IoT-controlled air con

Bosch employee canteen in Singapore gets benefit of IoT-controlled air con

Sensors used in canteens can keep workers cool but still save electricity

Bosch IoT cooling
Credit: Bosch

German engineering and electronics company Bosch has used IoT sensors in its own premises in Singapore to control temperatures and save on power-hungry air conditioning.

A research team at the company is using colleagues as guinea pigs and has fitted a number of its sensors in its the canteen at Bosch Singapore, in order to trial a new IoT system they’ve developed. The sensors are used by employees to control the temperature in the canteen to make eating more comfortable in the sometimes stifling tropical heat of Southeast Asia.

Bodo Staudacher, a research scientist at Bosch Research and Technology Center Asia Pacific in Singapore, explains in a blog post that the company wanted to know if it was possible to harness IoT to make the air-conditioning in public spaces smarter.

“This would make it more comfortable for users and better for both the budget and environment,” he said.

A more comfortable canteen

Using the canteen at Bosch Singapore, the engineers set up a system that allowed workers there to have the air conditioning set to individual tastes. The strength of air conditioning can quickly become an issue in public spaces where occupancy rates are constantly changing, as Staudacher points out: “If it’s empty, you need snow gear, but [you] swelter when it’s full.”

As diners sit down to enjoy their hot pots, they now share their table with the Bosch XDK, an IoT programmable sensor device, Staudacher explains: “As well as an array of sensors, this platform has two buttons. Obviously, we needed red for hotter and blue for cooler.”

Energy-efficient ceiling fans connected to the cloud can be remotely adjusted to direct air flow. When diners press a button, it changes the fan speed and temperature settings. This is done via a telemetry message to the Bosch IoT Suite running on the Bosch IoT Cloud.

Staudacher writes that the Bosch IoT Things’ central registry features a ‘digital twin’ of the fans and sensors. “This creates near-real time representation of a device online. It means you can communicate with it regardless of the device’s connectivity status,” he said.

Read more: Solar-powered smart windows could save energy and power IoT devices

Too darn hot

The system collects data from the digital twin and uses an algorithm to calculate the optimum set points for both the fans and the air-conditioning system. This is then relayed to devices.

The engineers also set up a feedback panel at the canteen entrance to see if the IoT system was working; users could rate whether the temperature was too cold or hot for their liking.

“Since we wanted to create a better experience for diners and lower energy consumption, we needed to check they were happy with the result.” He said.

He added that results back from the system and the addition of ceiling fans meant that the company could increase the canteen thermostat from 24.5°C to around 26°C and the feedback from diners remained positive.

“This temperature change almost halved the canteen’s cooling demands. We estimate that this will not only save around 4,000 Singapore dollars annually but reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than eight tonnes,” said Staudacher.

Read more: UCSD engineers develop near-zero-power sensor for ‘unawearables’