ABB opens doors to the home of the future

2013-11-08 - Imagine a home that took care of itself and looked out for you; a home that closed windows when it rained, lowered the blinds when it got dark, turned on lights to deter potential intruders and even kept your energy bills down. Sounds too good to be true? The technology is available today.
By ABB Communications

On the outskirts of Helsinki, Finland, residents of an apartment block called “Adjutantti” are getting used to smart living. Their building is equipped with automation systems, developed by ABB, which allow them to monitor their power consumption so they know how to save energy and money; a home/away switch ensures the lights and heating are never left on unnecessarily.

Adjutantti and other buildings like it offer a glimpse of the home of the future – a “smart” living environment that provides its occupants with unprecedented levels of control, security and comfort. “Our solutions aim to create a safe, efficient and comfortable environment to enhance the experience of being at home,” explained Tarak Mehta, head of ABB’s Low Voltage Products division.

ABB’s range of building control solutions manages all elements of access to the home as well as lighting, heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), entertainment, building monitoring, blinds and shutters, and internet protocol (IP) telephony. To give consumers and developers an idea of what is possible, ABB has produced a web portal, which visualizes a home of the future.

Now the technology is available, the main challenge is to make sure that building automation systems and the various devices, appliances and services on the market are compatible. To that end, ABB has joined forces with Bosch, Cisco and LG with the intention of developing a common software platform that would allow different manufacturers’ products to work together to provide automation, security and entertainment services.

The four companies recently signed a memorandum of understanding and, subject to approval by the relevant competition authorities, they plan to develop open-standard software available to all manufacturers, software developers, and service providers. Not only would the software unite diverse services in areas such as energy management, security technology, and consumer electronics, it could also be continuously developed with mobile applications, giving consumers more choices and possibilities for controlling their living space.

In the future, anyone who buys a new refrigerator, washing machine, heating system, or other type of electrical appliance that uses the software can expect that the appliance will interact and be compatible with the other appliances already in their smart home. “Our aim is to enable residents to manage every system and appliance that is powered by electricity in their homes,” said Tarak Mehta.

ABB continues to innovate in the area of smart homes, having recently launched its Welcome door entry solution which delivers audio or video information remotely to smart devices, this has gained 15 international design awards including the US Good Design Award and the German red dot prize. Additionally, the company has been recognized with the ETOP 2013 innovation award, in the Netherlands, for its SCHUKO® USB socket outlet, a standard socket outlet that provides a 230 V outlet and a USB-charging outlet in parallel.

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