Johnson Controls, Singapore’s EDB set up lab to drive AI-based tech

Johnson Controls, with the support of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), will set up a S$50 million innovation lab to pioneer a new branch of digital technology that blends building, spatial and behavioural data with analytics and machine learning.

Set to open by the end of September, the lab is expected to have more than 100 employees within four years.

“Urban living needs a reboot in the wake of a global pandemic. We see a renewed urgency to strengthen the resilience of our community and an opportunity to enhance sustainability,” said Alvin Ng, Johnson Controls’ VP of digital solutions in Asia Pacific. “This innovation lab has a unique focus on the intersection of technology, people and space, creating new value for organisations and end users.”

The resulting customisable, autonomous or voice-activated solutions will meet the expectant growth for contactless applications, following societal adoption of safety and social-distancing measures as the post-pandemic norm. Property owners, facilities managers, business users and building occupants are among the target groups expected to benefit.

The lab will take on a four-pronged strategy that covers research, collaboration, commercialisation and implementation. The four-pronged approach includes, first, forming partnerships with key local research organisations to leverage Johnson Controls’ deep domain expertise in building technologies to accelerate innovation in software engineering and product development.

Second, working with property developers and building owners to create “cognitive buildings” or thinking buildings that can understand, or even predict, occupants’ preferred ambient settings and recognise space usage patterns. 

Third, building an ecosystem comprising lifestyle, fitness and smart furniture datapoints. The data can be used for designing business and personal spaces. 

And fourth, engaging with professional bodies to deliver the new applications that impact the sustainability and resilience of local properties, as well as setting the standards for delivery of professional services in this field.