At Igor in West Des Moines, creating smart buildings of the future started with controlling the light.
Dwight Stewart, founder and CTO, built a fledgling relationship with Cisco Systems back in 2012 during the sale of an earlier platform Stewart and a fellow Iowa State University graduate had created. Cisco representatives and Stewart started exploring how Cisco’s EnergyWise protocol could be used to digitize lighting – transforming it from a utility function to IT, and developing one software to control lighting, temperature, energy and other facility needs.
“The digital ceiling, and quite frankly lighting, was just kind of the beginning,” Stewart said. “It’s almost like a Trojan horse, in a way. It’s a perfect launching point to much bigger things.”
Igor’s smart building system works in three parts: the software platform Nexos, the hardware node, and the network device users choose to connect to the Igor node.
The idea is ultimately a building infrastructure that gives managers total control and access over a building’s security, light usage, temperature and other features through a power-over-ethernet node and management software.
“LEDs last pretty much forever. So once everyone has switched from fluorescent to LEDs, or incandescent to LEDs, the lighting companies are going to be in a situation where they’re not selling anything anymore,” Stewart said.
“We’ve been focused on lighting and the power of present lighting for the first four years now … but this is really that debut into, under-the-covers, we’ve been building an IoT platform that does much more than lighting, and now we’re ready to debut it and start pushing that,” he added.
Lighting is a simple way to demonstrate the platform’s control, Stewart said. Using the software, users can control lighting across an entire building or in isolated sections. Since Igor was established in 2013, the system is now in use in 12 different countries.
Today, Stewart is focused on expanding Igor’s power-over-ethernet model beyond lighting and cost-savings for companies. Igor hired CEO and President Steven L’Heureux in November 2015, previously of Ryko Solutions in Grimes.
“Some of the things that make us really unique is most building systems, they’re proprietary, and they only work for certain vendors, but this connects to just about anything,” Stewart said. “We’re trying to allow people to use whatever device they want. They can use the best of whatever devices exist, and you’re not stuck with just one vendor.”
“There’s so many different [internet of things] applications now that having an infrastructure that you can reuse for other applications becomes hugely powerful.”