About five months after raising $15 million, PassiveLogic, which provides a platform for autonomous building system control, has secured an additional $15 million in an “off-round” strategic investment from Nvidia’s venture arm nVentures. The new money takes PassiveLogic’s total to over $80 million, and CEO Troy Harvey tells TechCrunch it will be used to grow the Utah-based company’s headcount from 100 to 140 employees over the next year.
The investment represents a huge vote of confidence in PassiveLogic, considering the startup hasn’t released any products to the public (although a beta is planned for later this year). Nvidia may have been persuaded by PassiveLogic’s go-to-market strategy, which offset the launch’s contractual obligations for the first two years of sales and distribution partners who plan to incorporate PassiveLogic’s platform into design and retrofit projects.
“We were impressed with PassiveLogic’s vision to revolutionize the real estate industry through autonomous operations at the edge,” said Mohammad Siddeek, head of nVentures, in an emailed statement. “We are excited to support a world-class team with deep industry and technical expertise as they prepare to roll out a highly differentiated solution to their first customers.”
Harvey founded PassiveLogic in 2016 with Jeremy Fillingim, who was previously a partner at Mote Systems, where he designed a universal touchscreen remote control. Harvey is the ex-CEO of Heliocentric, an engineering firm that has worked with clients to design “next-gen” buildings.
PassiveLogic’s service, which runs on Nvidia’s Jetson computing platform, connects to legacy building systems using a combination of sensors, software and local devices. The software allows customers to create system models from 3D drawings or scans, which are then used to generate physics-based “digital twins” that predict how a building’s equipment will interact. Based on data from the digital twin, PassiveLogic makes control and management decisions for the real building systems.
“Our research shows that the biggest use case for general autonomy is in buildings, which make up 25% of the global economy,” Harvey said in an email interview with TechCrunch. “In contrast to cars, every building is unique with very individual requirements for autonomous controls… A large building could have 500,000 inputs and outputs – or sensors and controllable degrees of freedom. That’s huge.”
Beyond the above capabilities, PassiveLogic automatically structures, labels, and merges building data into an ontology for use by third-party cloud apps. When asked about privacy, Harvey replied that all of PassiveLogic’s data processing and storage occurs at the edge, and that data (e.g., from sensors) is managed on an independent intranet that is not accessible to other IT infrastructures.
“Entering the future of real estate requires a digital platform that can aggregate building data and allow building managers to customize automation controls and act on them in real time,” said Harvey. “[T]The PassiveLogic platform bridges the IT and operational technology divide in the enterprise, supporting workflows that recognize that most building control purchasing decisions are not made at the C-level, but rather by the contractors installing the controls.”
While PassiveLogic’s current focus is on buildings and building infrastructure, Harvey believes the company’s technology is applicable to other control systems such as energy grids and logistics and supply chain facilities. The long-term plan is to adapt PassiveLogic’s products to broader markets, including the utility and network sectors.
Competitors in this space include Honeywell, which recently launched an AI-powered 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.