Gravio Blog
April 17, 2021

[Case Study] Lenovo's conference room management system: improving efficiency and utilisation of conference rooms with Gravio

Lenovo Japan GK develops and sells a range of hardware, including servers, tablets and PCs, and boasts the top share in the global market. With Gravio, Lenovo was able to improve the use of conference rooms at the Japan head office and increase efficiency for the Operations team. By combining Gravio with Lenovo’s own Edge PC, we succeeded in introducing a conference room management system at low cost and in a short period of time.
[Case Study] Lenovo's conference room management system: improving efficiency and utilisation of conference rooms with Gravio


Devices used to create smart rooms

Lenovo Japan GK develops and sells a range of hardware, including servers, tablets and PCs, and boasts the top share in the global market. 

With Gravio, Lenovo was able to improve the use of conference rooms at the Japan head office and increase efficiency for the Operations team. By combining Gravio with Lenovo’s own Edge PC, we succeeded in introducing a conference room management system at low cost and in a short period of time.

What problems were we trying to solve?

  • Managing all 11 conference rooms was becoming too much work for one person to handle
  • Staff were unable to accurately check which conference rooms and pods are currently in use
  • There was no statistics on usage and utilisation

What were the solutions?

  • Install Gravio motion sensors, temperature / humidity sensors, reception call buttons in all conference rooms and pods
  • All sensor data is collected and processed with one on-site Lenovo Edge PC running Gravio software
  • The in-use status and environment information of all the conference rooms and pods are displayed in a dashboard for the reception team to monitor
  • Gravio Lights installed on pod workspaces to indicate if they are in use

What are the benefits of smart meeting rooms?

  • The in-use state and environment of all conference rooms can be centrally viewed from the reception desk
  • The reception team no longer has to physically check the room use every few minutes
  • Any requests during a meeting can be quickly responded to by the reception team
  • The utilisation rate of meeting rooms and pod workspaces has improved, and meetings are finishing on time
  • Lenovo can gather metrics and analytics about the usage of their space

Conversation with the Customer

What prompted you to look into Gravio?

What problems were you seeing before introducing Gravio?

Many customers and partners visit the Lenovo Japan headquarters, which in turn meant many meetings were being held throughout the day. 

There are 10 guest conference rooms managed by the operations department, and there is also a pod workspace (the Telecube) and a conference room managed by Sales on another floor.

One reception staff member managed and operated all of the visitor meeting rooms, and needed to regularly check - in person - whether they were actually in use. In addition, there were constant support requests during meetings in the conference rooms, including: providing dial-in information, beverages, whiteboard and presentation supplies - such that the operations department raised this as an issue that needed to be addressed.

How did you introduce Gravio?

Having various conference room management solutions at customer locations, we wondered if we could solve the problems for ourselves, systematically. So we came up with the idea that it could be realized by combining Asteria's Gravio, who we’ve had a long relationship with, and our edge PC: ThinkCentre Nano IoT.

The hurdles for introduction are low in terms of both cost and technology.

How did you implement Gravio in Lenovo?

Our product manager managed the introduction. But even though he did not have any extensive software programming experience, he was able to build the system with the support of the Asteria Gravio team. Due to Gravio's similarity to the familiar Microsoft Windows it was straightforward to build a system without any coding experience.

As part of the Gravio installation, we also introduced a motion sensor, temperature / humidity sensor, reception call buttons and a total of about 35 sensors. The sensors and software are included with the subscription. 



All conference rooms are equipped with motion sensors, temperature / humidity sensors, and reception call buttons.


Not only the load reduction but also the user's consciousness has changed.

What effect did introducing Gravio have?

Even though the system was implemented quite recently, we’ve already observed four behavioural changes in the team:

  1. The receptionist is able to see all conference room availability at a glance. 
  2. The receptionist does not have to physically check the availability of the rooms anymore. 
  3. Users of the meeting rooms became much more conscious of time and made sure their meetings wouldn’t overrun. 
  4. Adding Gravio Lights enabled better visibility of the availability of pods, resulting in more overall use.
  5. Overall it seems users have become more aware of using the space effectively through visualising status, availability and so on - thanks to non-intrusive sensors operated by Gravio.


Environmental information such as usage status and temperature / humidity of all conference rooms is centrally displayed on the reception monitor.
Environment information such as usage status and temperature / humidity of all conference rooms is centrally displayed at the reception desk’s monitor - through a multilingual interface.

The usage status can be grasped from the outside with the light linked to the usage status of the telecube (private room type workspace).
The usage status can be grasped from the outside with the light linked to the usage status of the telecube (private room type workspace).

How do you intend to use Gravio in the future?

Our next step is to integrate with Microsoft Teams

When the reception call button is pushed in a conference room, a message will be sent to the Microsoft Teams channel, which the reception team can check the status of at their desktop or smartphone, for when they’re away reception. We will be enabling this soon.

Vacancy detection for automated reservation cancellation

If a room is seen to be vacant for 10 minutes after the start of its reservation, we will cancel the reservation in the Outlook calendar for that meeting - making it available for others to use.

Introduce AI to analyse overall usage

We are planning to use AI to analyse the accumulated data, like conference room usage and temperature or humidity, to determine the most comfortable operating ranges. 

Once we have implemented the above, we think this will help prove the value in quality DX solutions combined with IoT and Edge PCs.


Mr. Mitsuyoshi Otani, Work Style Evangelist, General Manager, Product Planning Department, Planning Division, Commercial Division, Lenovo Japan
Mr. Mitsuyoshi Otani, General Manager, Product Planning Department, Planning Division, Commercial Division, Lenovo Japan / Work Style Evangelist

Lenovo

Gravio is a solution that embodies Lenovo's goal of: Smarter technology for all.

How does President David perceive this solution?

Lenovo's mission is to provide “Smarter technology for all”. That is why Lenovo is keen to deliver concrete solutions to customers beyond just hardware.

However, it is difficult to achieve this alone. At Lenovo we believe that we can only provide such solutions to our customers by collaborating with vendors like Asteria that create software and hardware platforms like Gravio.

Where the conference room management system, that combines Gravio and the Lenovo Edge PC ThinkCentre Nano IoT is exactly that.

Data from IoT is exploding, making Edge data-handling indispensable

Why is Lenovo focusing on Edge computing?

Not long ago, the combination of IoT and the cloud was very popular. However, if a large amount of data collected by IoT is sent over the internet, there can be a substantial load on bandwidth, impacting other parts of the business. This is where the on-site processing of edge computing becomes important. 

The Edge computer will pre-process the information and only send the relevant data over the internet to the cloud. We think that hierarchical computing of this nature will become increasingly important in the future.

Privacy protection and data ownership is also a big factor. The introduction of GDPR in Europe shows that sending personally identifiable information (PII) such as images to the cloud can cause regulatory implications beyond one’s control. From this point of view Edge computing can help mitigate risks and increase compliance.

Easy-to-Use IoT in the office

What do you think about using IoT in office environments?

Until we announced the ThinkCentre Nano IoT device, IoT computers were mainly considered for use in industry. Because the CPU specifications were low and most of the operating systems were non-Windows based, so the hurdle for introduction was high.

This ThinkCentre Nano IoT + Gravio solution coupled with a Windows environment, means even IT administrators can build it. It's a really low-friction IoT solution.

We believe this conference room management system is a great showcase for Lenovo and Asteria solutions, and we are pleased to be able to take our initiative here and use it to promote the adoption of IoT in smart office environments.

How does using IoT in the office increase the office experience?

The utilisation rate of our pods / Telecubes is a good example; just by making the in-use status visible, we saw an increase in utilisation.

The same applies to meeting punctuality and general conference room utilisation. If visitors and other team members can physically see the status and other information for a room, the effect is an overall increase in use of facilities and equipment, which improves the efficiency of meetings, and contributes to enabling digital transformation.

Digital Transformation across various fields with IoT & AI

Tell us your thoughts on the future of Edge computing and IoT in your business

As mentioned earlier, this solution can help realise easy-to-use IoT, and is not limited to the office space. 

Smart retail is another good example. A recently released solution for shoe stores included using a vibration sensor attached to sports shoes, where ThinkCentre Nano IoT collects data from the moment customers enter the store to the moment they pick up a shoe. It also analyses purchasing behaviour from various data sources, like cameras and so on. 

Our customers are also interested in store sale expansion measures such as shelf allocation, as well as the kinds of products their customers are interested in by analysing data from purchasing behavior which, until now, could only be seen after the actual purchase. 

It’s also possible to share valuable data and insights with brands to help them understand when certain activities might lead to purchases, for example.

Furthermore, by running image-based analysis AI on the Edge using Gravio’s computer vision capabilities, we can increase the diversity of data, which will lead to realising truly valuable digital transformation.

With all of the above, the broader realisation of Digital Transformation is possible with IoT & AI - I think this is the real value of ThinkCentre Nano IoT + Gravio.

Mr. David Bennett, Global Vice President, Lenovo Group, President and CEO of Lenovo Japan, and President and CEO of NEC Personal Computer
Mr. David Bennett, Global Vice President of Lenovo Group / President of Lenovo Japan / President of NEC Personal Computer


High Level Architecture

Gravio-Lenovo High Level Architecture Diagram

Lenovo Japan GK

Location: 4-14-1, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Akihabara UDX

URL: https://www.lenovo.com/jp/

Established: April 28, 2005

Business content: Research, development, and sales of PCs, tablets, workstations, peripherals, etc., including ThinkPad and ThinkCentre.


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