Connected Real Estate Magazine recently spoke with Microsoft partner and Group Program Manager-Azure Internet of Things (IoT) Bert Van Hoof as part of the publication’s Realcomm/IBcon attendees profile series.
Realcomm and Intelligent Buildings (IBcon) will take place on June 6 and 7, 2018 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. IBcon explores the next generation of smart, connected, high-performance, green and sustainable intelligent buildings.
While Van Hoof noted that Microsoft would have a big reveal at the conference, he kept the exact details quiet for the time being. However, he did allude that what the company has to show will pertain to IoT software and the work the company is doing around smart buildings and spaces.
“We’re going to tell a bit of a bigger story when we go to Realcomm and IBcon in June,” Van Hoof said. “It’s a specific segment and we think we are doing relevant things for that segment specifically.”
Azure is Microsoft’s cloud platform that can help people “connect the dots in” in the IoT era. There are so many moving parts, such as transferring data from a physical location to the cloud for example. After witnessing people continually stumble when they start developing things at scale and go beyond the proof of concept stage, Microsoft decided to make things easier.
For instance, Microsoft’s Azure IoT Hub service has helped people bring data from a device to the cloud and vice versa more efficiently. The company then had to bring in additional layers of necessary infrastructure like device management, which became part of the IoT Hub solution.
“Once you go past hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of sensors, and you get into hundreds of thousands, tens of thousands, millions, hundreds of millions of devices, you need a whole kind of different fabric to manage that,” Van Hoof said. “We’ve been on this journey where we said, ‘IoT needs simplifying. We’re going to build a bunch of dedicated solutions and solutions accelerators for that platform level, but also at an open source layer above that where we can help corporations and individuals bootstrap these solutions.’ So that continues to evolve.”
The most Van Hoof could say about Microsoft’s announcement at the upcoming Realcomm/IBcon was to, “stay tuned,” but he did mention at company’s recent Build Conference, it discussed some of its new capabilities in modeling the physical world and its new Microsoft Graph program. Graph will work similarly to how Google does—a search for a topic will yield information about that topic and anything associated with it.
Graph can do the same, with the ability to bring in more of the physical space representation, according to Van Hoof. The program will unlock new capabilities that will transcend the pure building operations and energy side, and provide a deeper dive into space occupancy utilization—where to make a building smarter, know who the tenants are, where they are and allow building infrastructure changes to be made in real time.
Microsoft plans to showcase a number of scenarios that will include some of the largest builders in the world, people building office furniture, large-scale system integrators and startups and how they can leverage these new capabilities in interesting ways to push them into a new frontier. The company will also discuss smart spaces, not just smart buildings.
“A smart city means a lot of different things,” Van Hoof said. “It covers urban mobility, transportation, traffic, housing and buildings, energy, water, civic engagement, public safety and security. They are all diverse domains, but ultimately a city won’t get smart until you can connect all of those together and cross-correlate some of those data points. We believe we’re now bringing in fabric that will help unlock the value at broader scale. Not just the building itself, but a broader constellation like that.”