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applying smart building technology

—hosted by James Dice.
Ken Sinclair
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James Dice interviews our contributing editor Nicolas Waern in this first ever blog pod video.

Nexus is a weekly email newsletter for people applying technology in buildings. Each week, I share my take on noteworthy news in the smart buildings space. You can sign up here.

NicolasEpisode 001 is an introductory conversation with Nicolas Waern, CEO of smart building consulting firm WINNIIO.

In another day and age, Nicolas and I would have never met, but here we were... me in Denver and Nicholas in Sweden becoming fast friends. I guess that's the amazing power of the internet.

Top Highlights

1. What influence has Ken Sinclair had on you?

Just going back reading stuff, like 20 years ago, and I think it's maybe it's the same for you like we think we're innovative, new thinkers, all these kind of things. But then you go back 20 years and these guys are saying the same things. I'm sort of blushing, because I'm so like, ashamed of, like, my early thoughts like, Why is no one ever thought about this? Right? Wrong. Like everyone has thought about it. A lot of people have tried it. So you can see in that text is exactly the same passion that I have. I mean, I really want this industry to change because I see a lot of potential, but I was really wrong thinking that I'm the only one, which is good, and definitely not the first one. So I think that's sort of like definitely a humbling experience.

2. Nicolas’ take on Passive Logic and his three stages model:

I'm really in favor of their products. I mean, I invited him here to talk to Zynka BIM and SWEGON production for instance assembly and and some other, like local regional players here in Gothenburg in Sweden, so he was here and he helped me move a couch as well.

So like he was on from nine to one and it was just talking about you all everything that they're doing. And like I could just, I mean, from time to time during that day, I was just looking at the other so like players and attendees there was some actually competitors. And they were just staring right like deer in the headlight, because it was some of this is almost too hard to believe, for those for existing players because it's so far off to how it's being done in the industry.

So for me, it's just like taking what the world the best things the world has to offer, put them in, you know, in a package using a drag and drop user interface, so absolutely marvelous user interaction, and making it a fantastic piece of technology for installers.

But it don’t think it’s disruption, more like extreme evolution. Our session at the AHR Expo in Orlando was all about open like open standards interoperability that is the future and all these kind of things. So and I think what Troy and them are doing, I think it's more like Apple in the sense that they have a really nice looking product. Fantastic. Great piece of technology. Flawless… However, I don't think it's disruptive in the sense that it's so so for me.

I have three stages, right? So one is for, like the legacy technology use a lot of wired, a lot of vendor lock in proprietary systems. I mean, basically where we are today with old technology, right? Yeah, PID loop, sequencing, these kind of things. And then you take the next level, which is basically Passive Logic's stuff. So cutting edge technology, AI machine learning, deep digital twin, as he likes to put it, really disrupting the technology side of things, or taking in what the world has to offer in a box, right. But at the same time, you're still I mean, you still have to use their stuff. You still have to use their system in order to drag and drop and it's still part of their offering. Again, like if you look at the jobs to be done something for people, something for real estate owners, perfect it fits the bill. But in terms of taking the industry to the next level? I said that's where I am in terms of if you go if you so I have three levels. One is legacy technology. All in a box old technology, right. And here we have new technology but it's still in a box and you have to use their... sort of like it's some kind of vendor lock in, at least with proprietary systems.

The third level is you have products that are open, open source or whatever. And basically, if you go into the building, it's just an API. Okay? And then you just select whatever you want to do from the top you can have whatever software you want to run, it's basically gonna be like, okay, let's install this. Okay, let's install this from Troy. Let's say, Yeah, and I pump it down and make to use it, I'll let's install it. And I can use this stuff from James, or from Siemens, or from Schneider or from this tech or from some BMS suite or whatever, it doesn't really matter.

3. On two emerging smart building platform paradigms, similar to Apple and Android


I do like the analogy of Apple and Android. I really think, you know, you could talk about the similarities between passive logic and Tesla, like I did, but really they're creating the the iPhone of buildings, essentially, which is something that that we do need.

I think one thing that that Troy's opened my eyes to is these two separate narratives that we have going on, and I think maybe you're hitting on those two narratives as you're talking about this, but the first narrative is what I would call like the overlay narrative… where you have and this is kind of what Troy's saying we we need to replace but you have old, old old technology as your controllers, right? And then we're adding all this intelligence to kind of make up for the shortcomings of the old technology. Right? So that's where you have analytics software, sitting on top of and integrating with the old technology - pulling the data, but also sending commands. That would be the overlay paradigm, I guess.

And what Troy saying is no, all of those platforms, all of those solutions are making up for the shortcomings that we can actually just remove from the whole equation by starting at the edge with intelligence.


I definitely agree. And I mean, there's only I guess, so much you can do with technology that came into existence 20 years ago, using technology based on like 50 years ago. And I think that's definitely what he's saying as well like going in and ripping everything out. And the thing I know that Philip Kopp from Conectric is also the same mindset that just like, I mean, forget about it. I mean, just just rip it out.


My thought is that we’re always going to have these two paradigms, right? Troy's coming in with this new paradigm, but we were gonna have both for the long term foreseeable future, right? There are so many building owners out there that just made a big upgrade yesterday, right? And then there’s all the people that have made them in the last 15 years that don't have the capital to replace all that hardware, wiring, like, they just don't. There are millions of buildings out there that are like that. So these paradigms are gonna coexist.

4. On the Vitruvian architectural virtues and how they apply to smart building tech, too

Why do buildings exist? I love the old Vitruvian saying… buildings are just three things right? One is robust enough In the sense that it has to pass the test of time it. Two is useful. It has to be useful for the tenants or whoever is in there, it has to be fit for purpose, a hospital, a school, office building, whatever. And the third one is attractive. And that's something I definitely think is missing. So, for me, robust, useful and attractive is the goal.

And the funny thing is here. Well, the interesting thing is, is that if a building is also a system, I guess, and a system is made up of all these different parts, right? If you have to have the buildings is going to be robust, useful and attractive. Inherently you have to use products that are robust, useful and attractive. So and I would say like products today in the industry, if you go back to the first brackets, or maybe robust, sort of useful in a way, not attractive in the slightest not For the users, and I think that's exactly what Troy wanted to change. He wanted to put a fantastic piece of technology into the hands of the installer. That is robust. It's useful, and it's attractive. And I think that's the first one that I've seen.

So, again, going back to who are we doing this for? It's people.

Full Transcript

James Dice  3:10 

First, before we get started, I want to say thanks. I think I started writing in November. And like, day one, you, you were reading it, sharing it. I started getting LinkedIn requests from people from Sweden, that I can't even I can't even read the language they're writing in but I just want to say thanks for my stuff and embracing my ideas.

contemporary Nicolas Waern  3:39 

No, it's really good stuff. I mean, I think like, I tried to I wanted to do the same thing as in having a newsletter all this kind of stuff, but I mean, yeah, if you don't start with it, you're never gonna start right. I mean, it's the same with this podcast video thing. I mean, that we're trying on right now. I mean, it's so easy to say that you're going to do it but if you don't just think Nothing's gonna happen.

James Dice  4:02 

And if you wouldn't have messaged me last week, I don't know how many weeks in the future, this podcast will actually start. But thanks for that to give me a nudge.

Nicolas Waern  4:13 

Yeah, absolutely.

James Dice  4:15 

Cool. So I think I just wanted to, to, again, structure this like an intro. I mean, I think I know a lot about you already from our connections online. But why don't you just sort of introduce yourself? Give me your background. And then I think where I want to go to this is like, how did you get in to the smart buildings industry? And yeah, what made you make that switch?

things. Right. Let me go back 20 years. And you guys have asked me to say the same and it is like I was like right now I'm sort of blushing, because I'm so like, ashamed of, like, my early thoughts like, Why is no one ever thought ae way.

Nexus is a weekly email newsletter for people applying technology in buildings. Each week, I share my take on noteworthy news in the smart buildings space. You can sign up hereStay up to date on the industry and any new article I write by subscribing to my weekly newsletter on smart buildings and analytics.

James Dice


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