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Inside JLL Spark’s New Sensor-As-A-Service Investment VergeSense

Yesterday JLL’s PropTech investment arm Spark announced that it is leading a $1.5 million investment round in AI-powered sensor-as-a-service platform VergeSense. The press release threw around a lot of flowery talk about how sensor technology will change the way we understand our buildings. But we wanted to dig a little deeper into exactly how VergeSense’s technology works and what it will allow its clients to do. The VergeSense team was kind enough to answer my questions (and let the record state quite timely with their response as well).

My first question was about what VergeSense sensors. Like, what they are able to do. CEO Dan Ryan said, “Our sensors can measure the exact occupant count in conference rooms, and when deployed in open-office areas, are capable of measure individual desk occupancy — all from a ceiling mounted device. “This intrigued me because often sensors like this need to be deployed en masse, as in under every chair kind of masse, for them to be able to be accurate. This is not the case with VergeSense’s hardware, as Ryan told me, “The sensors are ceiling mounted devices, and typically deploy with one sensor per conference room, or one sensor per ten desks in open seating areas. In addition, to transmit data the cloud, sensors communicate with a gateway device, which needs power.”

The gateway device is a critical and unique part of VergeSense’s operation. They not only use it as a transmission hub but also to process the data locally before sending it to a cloud-hosted analytics platform. This allows clients to easily deploy the technology and complete the AI analysis with cost-effective hardware.

This led me to my next question, what can the artificial intelligence tell users? Ryan succinctly explained, “Sensors are able to identify usage patterns for conference rooms and recommend an optimal layout and deployment: number of conference rooms, recommend room sizes, etc. Sensors can also identify zones on the floor that are either over-or-under capacity and recommend allocating more space or reducing space as necessary.”

The lessons that can be gained from this kind of deep insight into room occupancy can be useful for almost every role in workplace and facility design and management. In order to make sure that this info can be used to its fullest extend VergeSense has taken the progressive act to create and API funnel for many workplace management systems, room booking applications and real estate planning software platforms.

JLL has so far shown that it is interested in finding and investing in some of the best solutions for many of its ongoing problems. Since office design is a growing part of JLL’s business it comes as no surprise that they would be interested in technology that can not only track a rooms usage but make suggestions for ways to optimize it.

Propmodo is a global multimedia effort to explore how emerging technologies affect our built environment.

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