The news seems full of reports about the Internet of Things (IoT) at the moment and how this virtual network is going to revolutionise the way our devices and appliances connect and communicate.

Whilst the reports focus on how your future fridge will be able to order food when you’re running low, or how smart controls allow you to adjust your home heating from the office, this got me thinking about how far we have come in such a short space of time.

If we look at the differences in communication between 1900 and 2000, and then at how much has changed in the last 17 years, it is clear to see that cloud-based controls are having an effect on modern life and this ‘revolution’ is likely to have even more impact in the future.

In 1900, the printed newspaper was the main way of receiving your daily news and the telephone was becoming the dominant way of receiving news from afar. 

A trip to the shops meant just that – multiple shops, with a walk to the greengrocers, fishmongers, butchers, hardware store, etc. etc.

In terms of controls for a building’s services and how these communicated though, these were all mechanical. 

Fast forward to the year 2000 and the daily TV news became the way most people still received their update, whilst mobile phones were gaining in popularity and text messaging was just taking off.

Larger supermarkets had also radically altered both the shopping experience and the nature of the High Street with out of town stores still dominating.

Control systems for building services have also moved on significantly over this period, with LCD panels and simplified controls making it much easier for individuals to control the temperature within a room, and for facilities managers to control the energy use within a whole building.

So there was significant progress in this 100 year period.

But now look how quickly things have moved on in the last 17 years!

Seb Desmottes2 Sebastien Desmottes Head of Product Marketing

Today things have changed significantly with the rise of smartphones and internet-connected devices radically transforming the way we communicate.

There is now an app for just about anything, so you can access all of the latest, instant news feeds, on tailored subjects to suit you and your lifestyle.

Your smartphone is of course also your telephone, which means you can reach anyone in the world, by voice, text, image and video, from almost anywhere in the world.

And these devices and the internet have seriously changed the way we shop, with internet-based retailers on the rise.

In terms of building controls, things have also changed but the adoption has not yet been quite so widespread.  

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Smart controls The MELCloud app allows gives you full control on your smartphone

Today, it is possible to control your home heating from your phone using apps such as our own MELCloud system.

This will also allow a building services engineer or facilities manager to have advanced control over a building’s entire system of heating, ventilation and air conditioning remotely, either for diagnostics or analytical reporting. They can also be used to control a whole network of buildings across a campus, across a country or even across the world.

Things have certainly moved rapidly in just 17 years so where do we see this all going next?

I think it’s difficult to be completely certain about how all of our devices are going to connect using cloud-based computing. However, I do think it is clear that controls have become much easier to access, and that the manufacturers are also finding more intelligent ways to report and analyse the data available.

So, whilst I do think we are a way off the totally automated home, which has already cooked dinner, poured a drink, run a bath and ordered your weekly shop – before you get home, it is now possible to control, monitor and automate a building services using the ‘cloud’ so that they deliver comfortable environments for occupants in the most energy efficient ways possible.

Seb Desmottes is Head of Product Marketing for Mitsubishi Electric.  

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