Brains and Buildings: Sapient's New Brain-Signal-Based Analytics Tools

Machine learning, predictive analytics, big data, and AI are popular terms and toolsets these days— and for good reason. They’re often aimed at a common goal: understanding and predicting human behavior for applications in powerful technologies.

  1. With our social media data — marketers understand what we intend to buy and what we find interesting
  2. With our 3D facial scan data — companies make authentication natural, seamless, and more secure
  3. With our health data — healthcare providers quantify and understand our lifestyles to make better diagnosis or treatment plans
  4. With our brain’s data — researchers create an interface between our thoughts and wearable technology 

The ultimate end of all these endeavors is to understand human behavior. When computers understand human intent, they can do some incredibly powerful things. Historically, they have created entirely new industries, improved our personal security, our healthcare, and our ability to help those with disabilities.

Sapient has entered the playing field with an entirely new application of these techniques for revolutionizing the world of smart buildings. 

  1. With the electrical data of a building — the ability to understand and predict human and machine behavior

Brains and Buildings

The origin of Sapient’s innovation conveniently comes from the source, and ultimate end, of all of these tools: the human brain. Sapient leverages the same mathematical techniques used to infer a person’s thoughts from EEG data in order to understand what people and equipment are doing in a building. An EEG, or electroencephalogram, is a technology that detects electrical activity in your brain using electrodes attached to your scalp. 

Companies like OpenBCI are at the cutting edge of making this type of technology accessible to a wealth of innovators in the industry— from academia and personal projects, to venture-backed startups and healthcare companies. 

At the heart of many of these companies that rely on EEG technology like that from OpenBCI, is a class of mathematics that Sapient has discovered to be incredibly useful when analysing the electrical signals of a building. The only difference— instead of electrical signals from the brain, Sapient uses the electrical signals measured by our own smart outlets.

The techniques for analyzing this kind of data can be used for fascinatingly powerful things, and Sapient has discovered how they can be used to generate never-before-seen insights into a building and its occupants. 

Instead of the brain’s electrical signals, it’s the electrical signals of buildings. And instead of thoughts, it’s the actions of people and machines. 

Insights such as:

  • Detect when a person is using equipment vs when it’s idly consuming energy
  • Detect the kind of equipment that’s plugged in, such as a TV, computer, or printer
  • Label the states of equipment from one moment to the next. Such as a printer’s print cycle, a refrigerator's compressor kicking in, a cappuccino machine making a cup of coffee, or even just someone sitting at a laptop working.

What happens when you have tens of thousands of insights for a building?

Sapient makes buildings safer, more efficient, more sustainable, and overall more productive. The insights like those seen above are useful by themselves, but it’s important to remember that they’re also consolidated into a single system. An often overlooked aspect of smart buildings is the commonly disparate solutions involving multiple technologies that usually don’t communicate well with each other. 

To generate these same insights without a Sapient system would require upwards of eight separate technologies— most of which, simply don’t exist yet.

For example, below are a few of the questions that Sapient can answer by processing the insights listed above on a large scale. 

  • When are most people working at their desks?
  • Do I have the right number of industrial printers to serve my occupants?
  • When do most people open the refrigerator?
  • At any given moment, how many people are sitting at their desks working?
  • Are there any workstations or rooms that are used less than 20% of the time?
  • Do I really need to buy a new cappuccino machine based on the way people used the current ones?
  • How many laptops are being used right now?
  • Is all my equipment performing healthily?
  • Is there any equipment that is likely to fail within the next 6 months?
  • Do people use the conference rooms when they book them?
  • Do I have any floor space that could be consolidated?
  • Do I have any equipment that I don’t need?

Why hasn’t this been done before?

Large amounts of data open all sorts of doors, and Sapient is the first to collect this much from the plugs of buildings. To put in perspective that difference, here’s a visualization of the amount of data that Sapient collects in buildings compared to how much data other state-of-the-art building systems collect.

  • The dot on the left represents the amount of data generated for a building by the most advanced HVAC system on the market over the course of a month.
  • The slightly larger dot next to that represents the amount of data generated for a building by the most advanced lighting system on the market over the course of a month.
  • And lastly, the large dot is the amount of data that Sapient generates for a building, in a single day.

We're only just beginning to see the potential of this discovery, and we're excited to see how far we can take it. If you would like to see just how Sapient can bring your building into the 21st century, you can find us at


or schedule your demo of Sapient today.