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Consortium to develop open Smart Home standard

Posted: 05 Nov 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Smart Home? open software platform? Internet of Things?

Electrical engineering companies ABB and Bosch, networking firm Cisco and Korean consumer electronics provider LG have announced their plan to develop an open software platform for Smart Home control applications. According to them, it would allow users to control lighting, heating and other home appliances from their tablets, laptops or smartphones. The companies have launch a consortium that will drive the development.

The goal is to develop an open data exchange architecture that enables devices and appliances to communicate among each other irrespective of the make or brand. In addition, they plan to offer additional middleware and application software. At present, there are certain de-facto standards in place that serve specific niche applications. An embracing general standard that could connect all electric controls and domestic appliances from light switch to shutter motor and washing machine however does not exist. The consortium plans to do away with this situation and to enable appliances to exchange data and instructions in a standardised way. Connecting various devices in the home would be a further step towards the Internet of Things in homes.

The platform will be available for all hardware manufacturers, software developers and services providers, the consortium stated. It will combine a multitude of services; examples are energy management, security, comfort and infotainment. It will also enable novel business models. For instance, software developers could provide and sell their apps across this platform. Consumers would not be forced to commit themselves to a proprietary technology, effectively excluding appliances from other vendors.

Such a Smart Home could, for instance, determine by means of sensors and software that a window is open, and assess this information against the background of the current weather forecast. Then the system could close the windows automatically to protect the home.

While such solutions are available today, they typically cannot communicate among each other, and existing solutions are not always compatible. The consortium of four intends to create a common language that enables the appliances to exchange data. These standards will define the rules and communication architecture for a home gateway that in turn organises data exchange within the home and with the internet. As soon as the higher-level standards will be defined, compatible appliances will be able to use existing communications techniques such as WiFi, ZigBee or KNX to establish communication channels.

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