Beyond Software: Why Hardware Still Matters

At first glance, hardware has taken a backseat to software for a while now. Take cell phones – no one talks much about the hardware used in the phone but people can tell you in detail about features in the latest software update. For the automobile industry, the hardware in cars is less interesting to some when compared to more software supported developments like self-driving.

But hardware still matters. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be as much buzz when a new iPhone is released (that runs on similar software as other models but has a better processor chip, or camera, or another hardware-based improvement) or when engines have more horsepower or emit fewer emissions.

These examples are not irrelevant when compared to the improved operations or enhanced occupant comfort, health and experience boasted by many buildings. All of these superb capabilities are possible through a combination of hardware and software. After all, where is the data going to come from if not from a physical device?

There is a common misconception as buildings and the entire IoT becomes more cognitively aware and powerful. The demands we are making today will only become more complex and our entire technology stack needs to be reevaluated to accurately keep up.

One of the biggest supporters of the value of hardware in today’s buildings is the sensor. Sensors have come very far in just the last few years and are able to support the intricate demands from software and the people that use it. In many cases, software is a communication gateway between hardware and the people that want information. If the hardware being used collects inaccurate data, then no software can fix it. You need good hardware just as much, if not more, as you need the latest software update.

Hardware continues to improve at an impressive pace. Whether it’s how elements are measured, the type of and life of a battery, the size and shape of a device, or other characteristics, using sensors that aren’t optimized for your purpose is a disservice. Using sensors and systems that are not connected is also a disservice. Software cannot make up for what old hardware lacks.

The integrity of data is one of the reasons why we at Envio get involved with the hardware side of our business. It is not unusual for a cloud IoT platform to keep their hands clean of the sensors and other data sources used for their purposes but we see it another way – by maximizing both sides of the equation, our client’s entire output is positively affected. We even created some of our own hardware:

  • The CUBE – A universal IoT controller combining metering, sensing and automation capabilities to monitor and control various aspects of your building such as temperature, humidity, current, daylight, occupancy etc. 
  • The TRIA – A device coordinator ensuring rapid and encrypted communications between web servers and controllers. The TRIA gateway can consolidate any existing system (BMS, EEMS, FMS, etc.)

These two key pieces of Envio hardware are the trick to connect & collect valuable data from various building systems and sensors. And because not all sensors are the same, we have partnered with industry leaders so that our clients have the best in class at their access. Regardless of if clients already have sensors or desire new sensors, we are able to integrate with them via our open API and successfully collect the desired data. Some past integrations included qlair, Disruptive Technologies, Airthings, and Awair.

If you’re thinking about upgrading the IoT system in your building, make sure you’re thinking about the entire tech stack. The buzz of software and cloud infrastructure might be magnetic and distracting, but the hardware in your IoT system is the foundation of your tech stack. It can be overwhelming due to the many elements and options available in an IoT system but that’s why we did the hard work for you. Request a demo of what our platform can do when paired with our hardware and your building systems, and see how much better your building can become.

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