Customer case: A sensor system that helps you avoid surprises

A number of private homes, apartment and office buildings have been outfitted with a NeoCortec NeoMesh sensor network sending humidity, temperature, and energy consumption data into an early warning system for building managers, designed by Berlin-based start-up company Wirsens.

Wirsens has its sensor system up and running in five prototype buildings, two in Denmark and three in Berlin. And if you’re impatient, just wait about six months. Then you’ll be able to buy the Wirsens system for your own house.


– We call it an anti-surprise system, Wirsens CEO Jakob Olrik explains.

– Let me give you an example: Recently here in Berlin six large apartment buildings were flooded, due to heavy rainfall. They all had a flat roof, and either the roof was leaking or the drainpipes were over-occupied. Many apartments were flooded resulting in several hundred thousand euros worth of damage per building. If these buildings had our early warning system installed, it would have told the building managers that something out of the ordinary was happening. I estimate we could have reduced the damage by maybe 90 %.

The Wirsens system collects data about the condition of a building, analyses and filters it and sends it to the people managing the building, for them to address acute problems immediately. On a more general level, the system collects data that help asset managers make long term decisions about the building, when to plan a major renovation etc.

Detecting changes

Jochen Treitel CFO of Wirsens elaborates:

– The structure of a building – as solid as it may seem – is subject to alterations on a second to second basis. From the outside it is affected by rain, sunshine, traffic, rumble from the underground etc., and from the inside by the people living or working in it. This is where our solution comes in. Our sensor network monitors the structure of the building and each apartment or office, detecting mold, water leakage, cracks, indoor climate etc. These things are detectable long before you can see, smell or feel them.

– We’ve chosen NeoMesh because it takes a lot of your headache away regarding the overall architecture of the network. We just install our sensors and let the network do the rest, with data finding its own way through the network to the gateway. This means we don’t have to install a gateway in each room or each apartment. We only need one maybe two gateways in a large apartment building.

– Also, the simplicity and ease-of-use of NeoMesh is important. It has a very good interface and is easy for new developers to work with. Furthermore, you have endless possibilities to alter or extend the network.

Maintainability important

– So, NeoMesh helps us set up a very versatile, stable, and easily maintainable infrastructure. In fact, the maintainability is what especially our customers like about it. If a node should seize to function, you just replace it, and the network does the rest automatically.

According to Jochen Treitel and Jakob Olrik, the Wirsens sensor system has succeeded to impress even the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics. In fact Fraunhofer has invited Wirsens to participate in a research project, using their sensors and network in the project.

Torture chamber

Fraunhofer is also testing the Wirsens sensors in a special “torture chamber”. And the institute’s building physics experts are helping to calibrate the data coming in, to find the exact levels of e.g. humidity, that should trigger a warning being sent to building managers: “Here is something that needs your attention”.

– We’re now in a development phase where we focus on data validation, quality assurance, and certifications. Also, the challenge is to filter the data so that only relevant information is sent to the building managers. We want to keep it as simple as possible, something along the lines of colour signals, where yellow means that something needs your attention, and red means you have to do something immediately.

According to Jochen Treitel and Jakob Olrik the Wirsens system will be available as a commercial product in half a years time. The product range includes humidity and temperature sensors, a special sensor for measuring the temperature of surfaces, e.g. a wall, proximity and smoke sensors and power and water consumption counters.

Other domains coming up

Simultaneously Wirsens is developing similar sensor networks for other domains, always collaborating with domain specific specialists to find the right solutions, and always using the NeoCortec NeoMesh easy-to-use, versatile, and robust network infrastructure to make things work.

– We are looking into developing an early warning system for asthma patients, using in-house sensors to detect critical levels of airborne substances that could trigger an asthma attack. Also, we’re working on a sensor system for the transportation sector. In all these domains our overall approach is the same: to develop systems that help you avoid surprises.


NeoMesh helps us set up a very versatile, stable, and easily maintainable infrastructure. In fact, the maintainability is what especially our customers like about it. If a node should seize to function, you just replace it, and the network does the rest automatically.

Jochen Treitel CEO Wirsens
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