In the offices of Geeksme Everything is registered. What time does each worker sit and when does he get up? What tables are being used. What is the degree of occupancy of a room. What doors and windows are open or closed. If the light is on or off. What is the temperature in each place. And also the air quality, humidity and atmospheric pressure. Dozens of sensors coupled to chairs, tables, doors and windows continuously collect information on how workers interact with each object.
Geeksme is a Spanish company that is dedicated to the internet of things (IoT) and has created Universall, a platform designed to be able to sensorize and monitor anything. "There is a great opportunity to manufacture devices, sensors that coupled with everyday objects that surround us, allow us to obtain data to understand how we interact with them and make decisions," explains Ángel Sánchez Díaz, co-founder and CEO of the company.
Like Geeksme, other companies and entities are committed to adding sensors to objects to make them intelligent. In 2017 a team of researchers manufactured a device capable of monitor different kitchen objects: From a microwave to a kettle or paper roll holder. This year Eurecat has presented a label with sensores to verify the contents of a bottle of wine without opening it. Meanwhile, companies like Manzana or Xiaomi they sell home automation kits to monitor the house and make it smart with motion sensors and door and window opening.
The information collected by different sensors, according to Sánchez, can be useful for both companies and private users: “In the case of putting sensors on a chair where we are sitting, it helps to understand what our behavior patterns are. If I spend for example more than two hours sitting and, therefore, I should get up for a health issue. Or if it is placed in an office room, so that a company knows the degree of occupation of these spaces and therefore can optimize them. ”
Dozens of sensors coupled to chairs, tables, doors and windows continuously collect information on how workers interact with each object
Its offices in the center of Madrid are the laboratory of what they hope will soon go out to dozens of offices, warehouses, gyms and homes. The company, which is also the architect of a watch that measures the ecological footprint and sexual activity and a mattress that monitors sleep, plans to release its devices for sale later this year. He currently works in several pilots and has already closed some agreements with companies like Securitas, Nordic Semiconductor or Ilunion. Among the companies interested, according to its founder, there are multinationals who want to monitor the use of their offices to insurers who want to create health and safety products.
Two devices full of sensors
One business day a 3D printer works tirelessly in a room in Geeksme's offices. Together with her, José Francisco Sánchez Barrio, the company's design and manufacturing engineer, shapes an accessory for the devices designed by the company. To measure all the mentioned variables, two devices have been developed. The quark, which attaches to everyday objects, is equipped with a 9D sensor consisting of an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a compass and a temperature sensor. You can measure the interaction with chairs, tables, doors, drawers, windows or even clothes. That is, how long someone sits in a chair, if it interacts with objects or if a door is open or closed.
All that information is transmitted to another device called Omega. It is a communication base capable of interacting with all quarks arranged in a space between 20 and 40 meters. In addition to transmitting information to the cloud through Narrowband-IoT, it measures environmental variables such as temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, air quality and even the amount of light.
Sánchez is in charge of the design of these devices: “The first thing is to conceptualize what they ask me to be able to play,” he explains. Once these prototypes are approved, the next phase is to reshape them so that they can be manufactured: “What is touched cannot always be manufactured. First they are made with a 3D printer and in a mold they are made differently. I have to adapt my designs so that a supplier can manufacture them with steel molds that are the ones that later take out the circulation of hundreds of units ”.
At the table where he works, there is an open Omega. Inside, it has a plaque that reads "designed by humans for human purposes." The human behind the design of this plate, which could be considered the brain of the device, works in an adjoining room. Alberto Ramos is responsible for the hardware area, and at the moment he designs on his computer the next version of Omega. He explains that the board, in addition to a processor, has different components focused on connectivity and sensors: “It's like a puzzle. You have to put the different pieces together and get it to work. ”
The price of these devices will depend on factors such as the volume or size of the project, according to their creators. For office use, an Omega together with 10 sensors will be worth about 400 euros. For private users, a communication base and three sensors, around 200 euros. In offices, in addition to optimizing spaces, these devices can be used to analyze when it is better to set the air conditioning or heating. "Even as we identify the level of light, if a technician detects that at 12 pm there is light in a room, it is a sign that someone has left it on," he adds.
Although Sanchez emphasizes that he is not thinking about it, a boss could be aware of everything his employees work: “I can know that the first presence has been detected in a certain chair at nine in the morning. Afterwards, it has stopped detecting the presence in what probably the worker has gone for coffee or to the bathroom, and then has returned until ten o'clock. ” The data can be collected in real time and you can check what happened in the last days or months. This information that shows how much a resource has been used, according to Sánchez, can be used to calculate furniture wear.
The idea is that an administrator has access to all the data collected and that employees can consult a certain part. “If a worker who does not have an assigned site could see on the mobile before leaving his house what degree of occupation the office already has, he could make the decision to go faster to that site if he is unemployed or, if the office is butt, work from home and avoid that hour of traffic jam that insurance is inefficient, ”he says.
Beyond companies, the devices are also designed for the care of the elderly: “For those relatives who are not dependent and live alone. We want to be sure that our parents are well. How do we do it? By coupling these small sensors to the elements of the home with which they have daily interaction ”. For example, the door of the refrigerator, the bathroom or access to the home, the bed or the chairs.
Thus, the relative can know with some periodicity if there is interaction in the home: “If that person is having a normal behavior, if he has risen at the time he usually gets up, if he has opened the refrigerator and is an indicator that he has eaten or if you left home at a reasonable time. So, if something anomalous happens, the platform notifies me and I, as a child, would call you to take an interest in your status. ”
Marián Sánchez, who works in product design and graphic design and is in charge of visually displaying the information that the devices throw, explains that the children could set goals, for example, that the refrigerator or house door is opened At least four times a day. In the event that there is something out of the ordinary, the platform alerts about it and gives different advice. In one of the prototypes of the app in which Marián Sánchez works, the warning is that the humidity is high and the following is recommended: “Open the windows and keep the house airy, close the doors of the wettest areas, try to there are not too many plants and use absorbents in closets and small rooms ”.
Experts in artificial intelligence and data protection and privacy such as Paloma Llaneza or Ramón López de Mántaras warn of the risks of introducing multiple connected devices into the home. These data, as they point out, say a lot about users: from their movements to their habits and behaviors. Given this argument, Sánchez refers to a past experience. Before creating Geeksme, he co-founded a company that manufactured Blackphone, a mobile that was characterized by its strong security measures and whose main objective was to guarantee user privacy. “We take the fact that the data belongs only to the end user. We are a custodian or caretaker of that information and apply all security measures to ensure that you are in a safe environment. The only thing we do with this information is to collect it in a completely aggregate and anonymous way to improve our products, ”he says. In addition, it recognizes that, like any technology company, they are exposed to possible cyberattacks: “We try to implement all good practices in the field of security: we have secure servers with their official certificates, secure connections, sessions that expire … AND if it happens, we have a multidisciplinary team that is able to react quickly and solve any security breach. ”
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