Non-intrusive Way to Monitor Thermal Comfort for Office Occupants

Published By : 18 Jan 2019 | Published By : QYRESEARCH

Ensuring an optimal temperature for all occupants in a shared spaces, such as in office and home is increasingly challenging.  The thermal sensation and comfort level for each one of them may change every moment. As a result, at any point in time, at least one person in these shared spaces ends up feeling warmer or colder than they wish to, thereby feeling uncomfortable. The resulting discomfort can take a toll on their health and productivity.

Current Guidelines fall short of Ensuring Comfortable Temperature Range in Shared Spaces

Current industry guidelines consider human variables to be a static entity over a duration. Hence, we fixed temperature ranges for summer and winter for workplaces. This makes heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems not very helpful in monitoring thermal comfort in real time.  A team of researchers from the University of Michigan, United States, may have found a way out of this quandary. They have suggested non-intrusive interpretation of occupants’ thermal comfort in real-time is possible through facial infrared thermography.

In the previous research, the team put multiple sensors across an office space to monitor temperature. The data thus gathered is combined with other useful information pertaining to thermal comfort level of each occupant, which was obtained from wristbands they wore and apps they fed their response to. Unarguably the method was intrusive.

Algorithms to decide Favorable Inside Temperatures for Occupants

However, the current study did away with apps and wristbands, and relied only on the remote sensing of occupant’s skin temperature to achieve the end. The researchers used thermal imaging technologies based on facial expression and distance sensors to gather relevant data about skin temperature. The data was then evaluated using algorithms to find out the most optimal temperature, irrespective of the number of occupants in any given point in time. And, the good part is that the adjustment can be done with active human feedback. The team found the approach successful in an office space occupied by seven persons.

The method has potential use in multi-occupancy spaces such as meeting rooms, theaters, and open-plan offices.

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