Property device

Utopi’s building sensor aimed at European market

Utopi’s device monitors a building’s performance

An early stage developer of a sensor that silently measures how a building is performing is turning its attention to the European market.

The device, developed by Utopi in Hamilton, provides real-time information such as humidity, ambient light, noise and CO2 levels in individual rooms and shared spaces.

Over time, the data can be used to show a full “service history” for property assets, making them more valuable to investors and asset managers, as well as boosting sustainability. 

It is applicable to a range of managed residential properties – from rented apartments and student accommodation to care homes. Property owners and managers can access data from hundreds of individual rooms or apartments through a dashboard and identify any issues. 

The device can also be combined with electricity, water, property size, and occupancy data to determine what typical consumption levels should look like and support tenants to make savings on their bills and reduce their use of resources.  

Utopi, set up just two years ago, has received initial orders for more than 2,000 of its devices from the UK’s build-to-rent and student accommodation sectors and is now looking overseas to continue its rapid growth. 

The company, which has 15 employees, has been supported by CENSIS – Scotland’s innovation centre for sensing, imaging, and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies – and the device is manufactured in Scotland.

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CENSIS supported Utopi throughout the development of the multi-sensor. The innovation centre designed the prototype, created the initial hardware design, and wrote the device’s software, including all of the device’s manufacturing software support. 

It has been built with a UK and European-compliant chipset, and can be used on the continent without modifications. The company said that, after Europe, with a change of chipset and re-certification its next phase of expansion would be the North American market.

Falk Bleyl, co-founder and chief technology officer at Utopi, said: “Understandably, developers, contractors, and owner-operators of buildings have typically been more interested in the overall physical asset, rather than the technology applied to it.

“The individual rooms or apartments are essentially blind spots to them – they have little data about how the space is performing and how residents use it.

“Our device works at a strategic level to help property companies understand the wider picture, providing them a view on the current and historical performance of their building.

“With that information they can more effectively manage their properties, identify potential problems, and support their occupiers to reduce consumption. Having a catalogued history of a building’s performance can also make it more attractive to potential investors.”

Mr Bleyl added: “When we set up the business, we decided to focus initially on managed residential space, but our solutions are also relevant in the commercial office market.

“The UK is a growing market; but Europe is a big opportunity for us, where renting is more common, and North America will be our next target after that. We have big plans for the device and our business, with ESG becoming an increasingly important focus for the property industry.”

Stephen Milne, director of strategic projects at CENSIS, said: “Utopi’s multi-sensor device is a great example of how access to the right data can help an entire industry understand its environmental impact, drive efficiency, and become more sustainable.

“The built environment has one of the largest carbon footprints and has been identified as a priority area in the fight against climate change – the more data we can capture, the more we can take action to make positive change.”

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