Home automation – it’s magic!

If it doesn’t make life simpler and save you money – then it ain't working

Making the wrong choice when installing home automation can be costly, but how do you make the right decision in a fast moving world with so many different products.

With a plethora of systems and manufacturers, each using different communications protocols, it is all too easy to end up with a system that’s not flexible, prevents interoperability and just ain’t working for you.

Even systems based on available standards, don’t always deliver multi-vendor product compatibility. A bad choice from the outset could result in escalating costs and may even one day force you to junk what you’ve got and start all over again.

At the budget-end of the market there are the plug and play systems that are retro-fitted into an existing property. These systems have the advantage of being relatively inexpensive and easy to install, but have a short life expectancy with a marketing strategy akin to a mobile phone, which means a high turnover of ‘suck it’ and ‘chuck it’ technology that changes from week to week.

Such systems often use proprietary communications protocols with too few compatible smart devices, which makes them inflexible and rapidly obsolete.

At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find the high-end professionally designed home automation systems that require qualified installers to fit structured wiring to a building at the time of construction.

These systems most often use the KNX worldwide standard for home and building automation, offering a future proofed system guaranteed by an association of KNX-certified manufacturers, with thousands of products to choose from and each guaranteed for interoperability.

Such systems can track the sun and adapt your home environment to suit. By integrating sunshade, window, and curtain adjustments with the temperature control and lighting in your home, comfort can be choreographed through automation to minimize your energy use.

But, what if you seek the middle road? That’s just where ABB is pitching free@home – it’s easy to install and inexpensive, giving you voice activated control technology in your home. With the aim of making smart homes an option for electrical installers who thought it was too complex before.

As Arthur C Clark once wrote “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” and that’s what free@home appears to be.

A magic system for switching and dimming your lights, detecting movement, controlling your blinds, changing scenes, heating, air conditioning, and door communication, all at the touch of a button or the sound of your voice. And thanks to the available standardized interface, called API, it’s open for the world. This makes life simpler and saves you money by saving energy.

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About the author

Mark Curtis

I am content manager for Electrification Products division at ABB Headquarters in Zurich
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