Idun was born out of an idea sparked between a data scientist, an engineer, and a real estate company with a shared passion for making buildings smart.
It’s 2016 and a Swedish real estate company has a problem. They have an abundance of smart building ideas, but are trapped within the confines of an external provider’s system.
“About 70% of our resources were going towards tracking down data, and only 30% to doing something smart with it,” recalls Peter Östman, Communication Director at Vasakronan. “And whenever something changed with the underlying system, we had to start over from scratch.”
A major barrier to realizing the full potential of their smart building vision, Vasakronan realized, was a lack of control over their own data.
“We couldn’t access our data and didn’t have real control over our smart buildings because we had to use their interface,” says Peter. “So whenever we wanted to do smartness and integrate information we couldn’t do that.”
Tired of making compromises, Vasakronan grew determined to track down an alternative that would give them the freedom they were seeking—whether the solution already existed or they had to create it themselves.
The answer to Vasakronan’s problem arrived one day in the form of a serendipitous meeting with a scientist and engineer with a boundless passion for making buildings smart.
As avid researchers within the field of semantic technology and applied machine learning, Dr. Erik Wallin and Per Karlberg are dedicated to solving real estate challenges with products enabled by semantically connected self-learning systems.
When the real estate company, the scientist, and the engineer put their minds together, their smart city ambitions expanded and a new idea was sparked.
“We have this vision where one smart building is asking for resources from another smart building, and communicating with other actors in a smart city,” says Dr. Erik Wallin. “To make this a reality, we need more buildings to join. And this is where having a common language is key.”
The big idea was an open-source platform called RealEstateCore.
Developed in 2017 and sponsored by a consortium between Vasakronan AB, Akademiska Hus AB, Klipsk AB, Willhem AB, Rise, and Jönköping University, RealEstateCore is a collection of data schemas that describe concepts and relations that can occur in data generated to model buildings and building systems, or that is sourced from such systems.
When property owners have the shared language these data schemas provide, they are able to connect their buildings with new services and possibilities on a large scale—without having to worry about building or technology-specific implementation details and formats.
“We realized early on that it was something we didn’t just want to do for ourselves, but something we should share it with others,” says Peter. “That’s why we made it open-source. It’s good for the smart city and the real estate business as a whole.”
In 2019, Idun was founded and the mission to enable smart buildings and cities—and the ecosystem of services that supports them—was taken a step further.
Whereas RealEstateCore empowers real estate owners with control over their own data, Idun’s operating system ProptechOS makes it easier to transform their portfolios into an application platform ready for innovation, analysis, and optimization.
“We need these kinds of solutions to be able to get our buildings talking to each other and to create the kinds of smart solutions we want to create without being locked into somebody else’s system,” says Peter. “Idun’s ProptechOS operating system lets us real estate owners maintain data freedom while making it easier to realize the fullest potential of our smart building visions, both now and as new ideas and opportunities emerge in the future.”