Posted on Thursday 15 February 2018 by Ulster Business
Philip Dowds, Managing director at OKTO Technologies
Cognitive buildings; buildings which can think?
Not only think, they take action themselves based on the thinking. A cognitive building evolving from the smart and intelligent building era has the ability to learn, to reason with purpose, to interact with speech and text, but most importantly has the ability to make changes within agreed boundaries automatically and without any human interaction.
Cognitive buildings integrate all of the internet of things, devices and systems together, gather information from the devices into a data lake of information, from where it learns user and machine behavior which then allows it to optimize the performance and efficiency of the systems within the building.
Gathers information into a data lake; can you expand on that?
Yes, previously and historically throughout the smart building era information was gathered, but the systems were basically silos and then the information was held in these silos preventing any meaningful analytics.
Today we are essentially creating one all encompassing system which allows for fully integrated transfer of data and information all stored in the data lake.
This all sounds very clever, but what does it mean in a practical sense?
Through automatic optimization of operations we can dramatically reduce costs in a commercial building, we do this using artificial intelligence and cognitive learning. This can deliver a new level of efficiency, allowing new business models to be created.
The approach provides intuitive technology systems which think ahead and act on expectation, providing things based on habit and anticipating user requirements. The building can not only anticipate what the user might require in terms of say heating or lighting, but also can predict where failures in the system or its equipment might occur before it happens.
In a residential environment, things will happen just the way you like them when you want them, automatically even before you ask.
There will be lots of competition in this new industry, what makes you so sure OKTO technologies can win?
Firstly, we will marry all of this new thinking and ground breaking ideas with a concept we are calling The Return to Analogue. All of the technology will be in the background and the touch point for the customer will be analogue, like a standard light switch for example, the customer will not feel as though they are operating or interacting with a computer. Technology is getting more complex every day, but people are becoming tired of the complexity and there is an increased and growing demand for simplicity - this is
actually not a new concept. It was Leonardo da Vinci who said “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”
Secondly, this return to analogue engineering approach is complemented and has a lot of synergy with our old fashioned values and deeply held beliefs. We work hard to develop our craft and invest heavily traveling around the world training with the very best teachers and thought leaders to ensure we have the best trained and educated engineers who are able to develop the best ideas.
But that's not our number one priority, we are most proud of the fact that our customers get an absolute commitment to quality and programme delivery from OKTO technologies. If we feel a system will not work first time every time, we will not provide it. If we promise to complete for a given date, we will deliver.These commitments are set in stone, we will move heaven and earth to fulfil our promises to our clients. Good old fashioned customer service, with a “whatever it takes attitude”, a world beating work ethic and insanely high level of internal expectation of delivery is how we intend to beat our competition.
Can you tell us a bit more about what OKTO Technologies does?
We provide technology systems in buildings, both residential and commercial, helping our clients to communicate better, hold better, more effective meetings and create the perfect atmosphere for their customers in a retail or hospitality environment. In the residential market we help our client’s home look its very best with dramatic lighting control, stay safe with integrated security and IT systems, and entertain family and friends with invisible audio systems which deliver real emotion and can play at club-level volumes along with fully-immersive home theatres and gaming rooms.
Our clients range from blue chip corporates, to luxury private members’ clubs in Mayfair to large residential properties in London and Europe. One project we have just been appointed on and are very excited about is the most expensive single private residence in central London at almost £1/4bn.
What are your plans for the future?
We have set out to build a world-class company.
Our goal is for OKTO Technologies to be the leading brand for cognitive building systems.
To support that growth in our business and our future ambitions we are looking to recruit talented and smart people to join our team.
Okto’s recruitment drive
Philip Dowds on the ideal Okto candidate
“There are opportunities across all areas of the business, from programming, and junior programming, project management, sales and estimating.
“We want hands-on IT traffic engineers with a specialism but with the ability and interest to build their knowledge across all elements of integration. Ideal candidates will be intelligent, self-motivated, have high internal standards, a strong work ethic, be team players and above all, be excited by the challenge and our aspirations to be truly world class.
“As a business, we have a brilliant team culture, where people collaborate, help each other out and learn and grow. It’s something that is really important to us, particularly in an environment where we are pioneering and meeting the challenges of the day job can be difficult.
“We have a work hard, play hard culture and the company hosts regular social events from dining in London to competitive car racing. Our employees also benefit from training in the Okto Academy, our new in-house training facility.” ■