Johnson Controls, EDB to set up $50m lab for AI innovations

Johnson Controls is partnering the Economic Development Board (EDB) to set up a $50 million lab to drive artificial intelligence-based innovations for the built-environment industry.

The Ireland-based firm, which provides integrated smart green systems, said yesterday that it will develop "digital technology that blends building, spatial and behavioural data with analytics and machine learning".

The lab is due to open by the end of September and is expected to have more than 100 employees within four years.

Mr Alvin Ng, Johnson Controls' regional vice-president of digital solutions, said most of these employees will be new hires.

EDB executive vice-president Tan Kong Hwee added: "Johnson Controls' decision to set up its innovation lab (here) underscores Singapore's attractiveness for companies to develop and commercialise digital solutions for the global market.

"We look forward to the... exciting job opportunities for Singaporeans in areas such as software engineering, data science and cyber security."

Johnson Controls said property owners, facilities managers, business users and building occupants are among the target groups expected to benefit from the lab.

The company's strategy covers research, collaboration, commercialisation and implementation.

"The resulting slew of customisable, autonomous or voice-activated solutions will meet the expectant growth for contactless applications following adoption of social distancing as the post-pandemic norm," said Johnson Controls.

The firm aims to form partnerships with local research organisations to accelerate innovation in software engineering and product development. This also allows it to leverage its expertise in building technologies such as heating ventilation, lights and security.

The company will work with developers and property owners to create "cognitive buildings" that can understand occupants' preferred ambient settings and recognise space usage patterns.

"Such innovation will improve energy usage, increase the commercial attractiveness of the property, and enhance its environmental, social and governance metrics," the company said.

Johnson Controls will also build an ecosystem comprising lifestyle, fitness and smart furniture data points that can be used for designing business and personal spaces.

"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," added Mr Ng.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2020, with the headline Johnson Controls, EDB to set up $50m lab for AI innovations. Subscribe