User Experience for IoT

How an IoT-Driven User Experience (UX) is Transforming the HVAC Market

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IoT has captured the attention of many because of the growing understating of how real-time data impacts operational efficiency. Energy efficiency represents only one such example.

Organizations registered their initial skepticism about IoT through questions about ROI; those repeating that well-worn refrain are typically content to follow the crowd. Choices are typically made for them.

Business transformation is happening today. In the current transition from products to services, the value proposition of IoT goes far beyond the data itself.

IoT has the capacity to drive a customer’s User Experience (UX), delivering a service that seamlessly meets the needs of sustainability, productivity and worker comfort. "User experience" encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products.

“The first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. Next comes simplicity and elegance that produce products that are a joy to own, a joy to use.”

IoT enables today’s transforming companies to leverage real-time data to deliver a continual series of customer touch points that drive a comprehensive UX. If you haven’t thought about UX, then you haven’t really considered the transformative value of IoT.

Let’s put on a new business lens to understand the seeds of change being planted today.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is More Than the Data Itself

People care about IAQ. Any discussion about the ROI of gathering real-time IAQ data will lead to the uncomfortable truth of attempting to put a price tag on someone’s health. Your persuasion argument is doomed from the start.

Of course, real-time IAQ data has value. The WELL building standard has codified standards that promote . . . clean air. Good luck arguing against that proposition.

Nonetheless, the value proposition of IoT with respect to IAQ is more than the data. While IAQ data is critical to assess real-time conditions, don’t forget the underlying premise. The “clean air” is for the benefit of those occupying the space, whether temporary or permanent. With this understanding, the true UX value of the real-time IAQ does not reside in a report merely for assurance purposes, but in the connection of the occupants to the space in which IAQ is measured.hi-res-IAQ-widget-5

An elegant UX would therefore focus on a seamless process of connecting users to the real-time IAQ data. Instead of searching for it, they should have assurance of the IAQ conditions wherever they are in the space. This is more than a UI on their mobile phone. As an example, would users find comfort in a real-time comparison of IAQ conditions to the polluted or unhealthy conditions outdoors?

Imagine the joy delivered to users by such a UX. Companies haven't even begun to understand the transformative value of IAQ data to deliver services.

The Process of Acquiring HVAC Data is Part of the UX

HVAC is at the center of performance and sustainability trends happening now. As HVAC equipment can represent roughly 40%-60% of a building’s total energy consumption, EVERY building should focus on this issue. Whether a building has been commissioned last week or has been commissioned 20 years ago, real-time sensor data about HVAC equipment performance (e.g., chillerscooling towers, RTUs, AHUs) should be part of a systematic operational plan to cure HVAC inefficiencies.

Obsolete EquipmentA fundamental problem exists, however, regardless of the age of the building and its sensor infrastructure typically represented by a Building Automation System (BAS). If the BAS cannot provide needed sensor data, then the building is functionally obsolete.

Functional obsolescence is rampant today as the desire for increasing amounts of real-time data escalates across market verticals. Again, real-time HVAC data in and of itself is not the issue.

From a UX perspective, the PROCESS of acquiring real-time HVAC data can be determinative of the true service value.

Consider, for example, a typical scenario where a building engineer desires to add a single data point for monitoring. The additional data point could relate to a pipe temperature, a valve status, the operation of a pump, etc. Typical expectations would require an extensive scoping plan to modify the hardware/software of the BAS to accommodate a new data point. Set aside the issue of cost for now.

The real issue focuses on the time it takes to connect the building engineer to the data needed to perform the relevant facility management tasks. The fact that the facility management plan would be interrupted to accommodate extensive BAS modifications demonstrates the breakdown in UX. What could have been seamless, is anything but in reality.

IoT may, in fact, deliver the same real-time data. From a UX perspective, however, IoT can deliver the needed data in a retrofit PROCESS that eliminates frustration and delays in the service delivery. Would a building engineer consider the UX of a wireless IoT retrofit that could be installed and commissioned within hours as a joy to use?

The capacity of IoT to revolutionize UX in the delivery of building services is understood today by those companies that understand the business transformation happening now.


IoT is more than real-time data. IoT represents an essential component of the business transition from products to services in delivering the UX that all customers desire. If your company has adopted the mantra of “Services, Services, Services!”, then you might want to focus on IoT’s revolution of UX.

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