Building and Living
Living in the Age of Information - the SmartHome
As a consequence of greater demands for comfort and safety, higher energy and resource efficiency requirements, fast developments in communication and information technologies, houses and apartments nowadays are equipped with a multitude of technical systems. In addition, all kinds of mobile equipment are available. Most of them contain only very basic or even incompatible communication interfaces.
Fig. 1: SmartHome – interconnected regions
A SmartHome is obtained by skillful networking of various pieces of equipment:
- Coupling equipment functions generates new solutions for comfort and automatic processes.
- Access to all (networked) units by means of one “remote control unit” is possible.
- Access to all units in a SmartHome is obtained independent of location (mobile, via internet browser, etc.).
- Inhabitants may make many areas of a house capable of SmartHome operation (see Fig. 1).
The SmartHome and Resources from Industry
Although the trend is for more and more households to be equipped with comprehensive networks allowing practically everything to be programmed, from alarm systems to management of the heating system or lamps, the breakthrough to mass application in single-family houses has not yet occurred. Application in professional building management is something quite different [SIE00]. Experts in these applications are either available or can be hired for operation, maintenance and care so that large building complexes can be run automatically.
Fig. 2: SmartHome Stakeholders
The term SmartHome was coined for a residential environment in which nearly all technical systems can communicate with each other (see above). In addition to the possibility to couple units, this also implies the use of automated processes and transportation of multimedia data across several interconnected networks.
The prime movers driving developments towards SmartHomes and the mass market are the internet and mobile units with audio, video, and image data. According to some studies, including a data monitor study (Digital Home 2003), SmartHomes are likely to become a big market. For this reason, a variety of industries, service providers included, are all set to offer products and services (see Fig. 2).
Technical requirements to be met by a SmartHome :
- Homogeneous mapping of any terminal equipment (also from different networks).
- Hot Plug&Play (the house system should not have to be “booted” from scratch or maintained).
- Extremely scalable system (only minimal but also powerful solutions correspond to individual living).
- Support of multimodal user interfaces (remote control, handheld, voice control and voice output, internet, etc.).
- Multi-user services with network management functionalities (handling access rights and visibilities).
- Extremely simplified operation by means of supports (integration of support systems, manual, and functionality).
- Multi-language support.
- Support of remote maintenance by so-called service providers (remote access rights, encryption, updating support).
- Multi-network capability (e.g. TCP-IP, Bluetooth, Firewire; there is also a need for gateways to building automation systems, entertainment units, communication equipment).
Approach to a universal solution, and implementation of a SmartHome:To make a system meet all requirements, middleware is being developed in line with this concept:
- XML descriptions of all units.
- Messages are exchanged by XML-Nachrichten based on UPNP.
- Each unit has an active part for handling protocols and for user guidance, an “agent,”
- Implementation of an “agent pool” is organized on a PC.
- For connecting other systems and linking “agent pools,” gateways agents are implemented.
The objective of this “Building and Living-SmartHome” project is to develop a universal concept (protocol) for SmartHome and design it specifically for elderly and handicapped people, i.e. make handling and operating SmartHomes extremely simple. Moreover, it should be possible to minimize the presence of technology.
If you have any questions or suggestions, send me an e-mail: Mr. S. Dietze
Implementation and development resources :
- Programming languages: C++, C, Java, and Delphi.
- Operating systems: MS-Windows W2K, NT, W98, XP, ME, Unix, PalmOSc Microcontroller.
- Protocols and bus systems: UPNP, OSGi-Havi, USB, Bluetooth, TCP-IP, EIB, LONWORKS.
- Programming areas: Telematics, protocols, voice recognition, MS internet information service IIS, Windows-APIs.
These names used above are registered trademarks: MS-Windows, PalmOS, UPNP, OSGi-Havi, USB, Blutooth, EIB, LONWORKS.
Diploma theses and term papers:
Diploma theses and term papers can be written by agreement in these subject areas:
- Development of equipment driver programs LON, EIB, weather station, ... ideas requested.
- Universal link of an Apache web server to any equipment pool.
- Protocol extensions and dialog management for multimodal operator interfaces of the XML equipment pool.
- Voice control and voice output by MS agents (multilanguage).
- Encryption and IP gateway technology.
- Gateway to Bluetooth equipment by protocol implementation.
- Connection of HAVI equipment.
- System for identification and matching to individual users.
- Protocol implementation by Linux.
Proposals fitting into this environment will be gladly accepted. Dipl. Ing. S. Dietze