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Building control startup PassiveLogic INKS partnership with Nvidia, secures $15M • Technology Flow

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About five months after raising $15 million, PassiveLogic, which provides a platform to autonomously control building systems, secured an additional $15 million in an “off-round” strategic investment from Nvidia’s venture arm, nVentures. The new cash brings PassiveLogic’s total to $80 million, and CEO Troy Harvey told Technology Flow that the Utah-based company intends to grow its headcount from 100 employees to 140 within the next year.

The investment represents a major vote of confidence in PassiveLogic, as the startup has yet to release any products to the public (although a beta is planned for later this year). Nvidia has likely won over PassiveLogic’s go-to-market strategy, which has offered startup contract commitments for the first two years of sales and distribution partners that plan to incorporate PassiveLogic’s platform into construction and retrofit projects.

“We are impressed with PassiveLogic’s vision to revolutionize the real estate industry through autonomous operations at the edge,” Mohammad Siddique, head of nVentures, said in an emailed statement. “We are excited to support a world-class team with deep industry and technical expertise as they prepare to launch a highly differentiated solution with their first customers.”

Harvey co-founded PassiveLogic in 2016 with Jeremy Fillingim, formerly a partner at Mott Systems, where he designed the touchscreen universal remote control. Harvey is the former CEO of Heliocentric, an engineering firm that worked with clients to design “next generation” buildings.

PassiveLogic’s service — running on Nvidia’s Jetson computing platform — interfaces with legacy building systems using a combination of sensors, software and on-premises devices. The software allows customers to create system models from 3D drawings or scans, which are then used to create physics-based “digital twins” that predict how buildings’ devices will interact. Based on data from the digital twin, PassiveLogic makes control and management decisions for real-world building systems.

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Image Credits: Passive logic

“Our research suggests that buildings, which represent 25% of the global economy, are the biggest use for general autonomy,” Harvey told Technology Flow in an email interview. “Unlike cars, every building has completely adaptive requirements for autonomous controls … A large building has 500,000 inputs and outputs — or sensors and controllable freedom. That’s enormous.”

In addition to the features mentioned above, PassiveLogic automatically fuses structures, labels and building data into an ontology for use by third-party cloud apps. Responding to a question about privacy, Harvey emphasized that all of PassiveLogic’s computing and storage is done at the edge, and data (eg, from sensors) is managed on an independent intranet that is inaccessible to other IT infrastructure.

“The future of real estate requires a digital platform that can integrate building data, enable building managers to customize automation controls and act on it in real time,” Harvey said. “[T]He PassiveLogic platform bridges the divide between IT and operational technology in the enterprise and supports workflows that acknowledge that building controls purchasing decisions are most often made by the contractors installing the controls, rather than at the C-level.

While PassiveLogic is currently focused on buildings and construction infrastructure, Harvey believes the company’s technology could be applied to energy grids and other control systems such as logistics and supply chain facilities. The long-term plan is to adapt PassiveLogic’s products to a wider range of markets, including the utilities and networking sectors.

Competitors in the space include Honeywell, which recently launched an AI-based building control system, and HVAC management startups Brainbox and 75F. There’s also Mesa, a platform from Sidewalk Labs designed to help commercial building operators optimize existing climate control systems.

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