Everyone is talking about the “Internet of Things (IoT)”, but do we even know what this phrase means and what impact it will have on the HVAC industry?

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We’ve done a Q&A with our specialist, Professor Elgar Fleisch, to answer the questions everyone is asking.

At the moment, the “Internet of Things” seems to be cropping up in everything we read. But what does it actually mean?

The Internet of Things is a vision of how every object and location can become part of the Internet. In this scenario, it is not “just” people that communicate over the Internet via laptops, iPads or mobile phones, but also everyday objects of any kind. For example, the balcony door might use this easy and cost-effective channel to tell the air conditioning system that it is open, the LED light would be able to detect the presence of somebody in the room (thereby providing an alarm system for use by absolutely anyone) or the olive tree could send a signal to the watering system to say that it could do with a few more drops.

In your opinion, is Hoval well equipped to meet this challenge?

Not only is Hoval heavily focused on customers and solutions; it is also a technology enthusiast. That helps to explain why Hoval is so well prepared for the “Internet of Things” and is one of the companies right at the forefront of this issue.

Is the Internet of Things already a reality in certain areas?

The Internet of Things is coming to play an increasingly important role in virtually every industry and value-added step. However, the places where this is most evident, by far, are Facebook and Twitter. These primarily involve communication between things – and usually wirelessly at that. I’d also like to add that the Internet of Things is best thought of in terms of evolution. It is not going to cause a revolution – unless you are one of the ones who gets left behind.

Today’s customers are sometimes still sceptical about online connections to heating systems. What is your take on this?

It doesn’t concern me in the least. Firstly, I believe that each customer must be free to decide for themselves. And secondly, I have seen time and time again how solutions that bring greater benefits for customers manage to gain mass appeal. If a heating system with a secure and reliable Internet connection can save more money and energy while at the same time offering a more convenient way of controlling the heating, then this type of system will become widely established.

What is the significance of the Internet of Things for the HVAC industry?

The complexity of modern HVAC systems is rapidly increasing, as the number of different trades involved in producing, recovering, storing and delivering energy grows. This situation can rapidly overwhelm customers and planners/installers alike. The Internet of Things offers an easy and costeffective way of controlling these highly efficient systems with a fine degree of precision.

Prof. Dr. Elgar Fleisch
Director of the Institute of Technology Management (University of St. Gallen)
Professor of Technology Management (ITEM-HSG)
Professor of Information Management (ETH Zürich) 



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