Spicing up the Workplace - Part 3 Asia is Creating Smarter Recipes for Design

Spicing up the Workplace – Part 3
Asia is Creating Smarter Recipes for Design

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R&D cooked up in Asia will fuel smart cities and smarter workplaces

In this third part of the series we look at the flow-on effects of significant direct investment in R&D in Asia by local and international organisations driving smarter workplaces.  This provides an enormous platform for local innovations to be generated, adapted and transferred within and across industries in India, China and beyond.  Accelerated by rapid urbanisation, these innovations create new opportunities for the design of smart cities, furniture and equipment.

These new products and services will change the way we interact with the physical environment and with each other, profoundly influencing our experience of work and leisure in the future.


China is already the second highest investor in research and development (R&D) after the United States (ahead of Japan) and is forecast to overtake even the U.S. in R&D spending within the next 10 years.  China has already surpassed the United States as the world’s most attractive destination for foreign R&D investment, closely followed by India; the number of global companies with R&D centres in China or India grew almost fourfold between 2001 and 2010.  It’s not all about China though, Asia’s total expenditure on R&D is rapidly approaching U.S. and European levels. The West is still out-investing Asia, but the gap is closing.

The adoption of smarter and more intelligent building technologies in Asian smart cities has been growing 30-40% every year

Smart Buildings using the Siemens building automation and security systems also enable decentralised energy management in smart cities. The exchange of data via smart meters allows utilities to use facilities of the connected building as a local energy buffer.

In addition to the obvious reason of being close to the local growth markets of Asia, a major reason for Asia’s attractiveness as a global R&D location is its intrinsic potential to create highly disruptive innovations that reshape or create new markets through the creation of low-cost yet elegant solutions.

Your Building Knows Who You are and What you’re doing!

One such example is evidenced by the adoption of intelligent building technologies in Asia, which has been growing 30-40% every year, fuelled by higher urban densities and increasing energy costs, technology innovation and progressive regulatory environments. Substantial thought leadership exists in Sydney, Singapore and Hong Kong, which set the benchmark for other developing markets in Asia to follow.  The potential of this connected architecture of the future is already on display at The Edge in Amsterdam, which Bloomberg says is:

Quite possibly the smartest office space ever constructed.


Although The Edge is (perhaps not surprisingly) in Europe, rapidly-evolving local building technologies and the need for market participants to gain a competitive advantage through them have led to a fertile breeding ground for Asian research-led innovation in intelligent cities. New Taipei City in Taiwan was recognised as one of the top Intelligent Communities globally in 2015 (based on broadband connectivity; knowledge workforce; innovation; digital inclusion, and marketing advocacy) and Japan, Singapore, and Australia regularly rank highly in similar lists of the world’s smartest cities.

At a more micro level, the combination of the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable devices have created new opportunities to synchronise our health and well-being with the internal environment in our homes.  Ioffice.com have an interesting article on how the IoT is changing how we work.  Already some hotels are incorporating similar technologies to personalise rooms (what will this mean for hotel butlers in future?) and it won’t be long before we expect a similar level of bespoke environmental response in our workplaces.

Image showing a Wearable device controling smart building systems

Wearable devices are already able to connect with building systems in homes and even some hotels, automatically adjusting conditions to suit us at different times of the day.

Could interactive workplaces facilitate real-time wayfinding, create curated “bump zones” for people, or automatically customise spaces for specific users?


As the next and final instalment in this series will explain, the massive take-up of personal connected devices, and the increasing number of university-educated professionals across Asia, amplify the trends in urban density and R&D investment to create the perfect ingredients for workplace innovation in Asia.

This is the third of my four part series “Spicing Up the Workplace“.  In case you’ve come through to a later post, you can start at the first part here.  I do hope you’ve found this series useful, and I’d love to hear your comments and questions below!