Innovation: Hotel IoT software platform
Founder: Jason Tienor
The Internet of Things has become somewhat ubiquitous in many American homes, with smart thermostats allowing for homeowners to control the temperature from their phones, and smart speakers allowing them to simply speak a request to the device.
But the commercial market has been slower to adopt smart devices. Waukesha-based Telkonet Inc. has been trying to change that.
This summer, Telkonet introduced a new product called Symphony that can be used by commercial clients to harness their Internet of Things devices, including thermostats, outlets, light switches, door and window sensors, and wireless gateways. It can also communicate with Volara, which allows voice activation across the platform.
It could have a significant financial impact for hotels, college campuses, military bases, senior living, public housing and health care facilities, which have hundreds of rooms in which the lights, thermostat and curtains are at varying levels at all times of day, said Jason Tienor, chief executive officer at Telkonet.
“The idea behind Symphony is to be able to deploy in large scaled environments,” Tienor said. “The things that seem to materialize as the next innovations or the next abilities in commercial environments are those that are first born in the consumer space.”
Using Symphony, a hospitality company could set hotel rooms to be in energy hibernation mode when a guest departs the room for the day, but return to the user’s preferences when they put their keycard into the lock, with the curtains open, the TV set to a certain channel and the temperature and lights as the guest left them, he said. And hotel staff could get alerts when the minibar needed a restocking, for example.
“The same features and functionality and creature comforts that you see in the consumer world are those that translate equally well into the commercial environment,” Tienor said.
Symphony helps all the different Internet of Things devices, each with its own controls and applications, work together and “speak” to each other on a third-party platform. Symphony is compatible with Zigbee, Bluetooth, wifi and Ethernet connected devices.
“As more third-party developers deploy their products on the Symphony platform, it will become a much larger and more robust platform,” he said.
According to Telkonet, a hotel could save up to 45 percent on in-room energy costs, just based on thermostats alone, using the Symphony platform. Hotels can also use the smart technologies to welcome their loyalty members to a room by name and set it to their liking.
“There’s a lot that can be seen there from the business case perspective and when you pair it with the creature comforts and efficiencies of what can be found in the space by the guests or the consumers themselves, there’s a lot of reasons to be deploying technologies like these,” he said.
Telkonet has a similar platform already, called EcoSmart, that is a legacy offering integrating just the Zigbee-connected products. But Symphony is the first network-agnostic, enhanced-learning cloud platform for the hospitality industry, the company says. Symphony provides third-party device integration for all kinds of products by getting chips and sensors to “speak” to each other across all types of languages so they can be controlled on a single device.