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31 Jan - 03 Feb 2023

IoT and its role in home and building automation

We talk to Casto Canavate, Marketing Manager at KNX (ISE 2022 Presenting Show Partner), about how the Internet of Things can make building automation projects more powerful and wide-ranging.

 

 

How has digitalisation has changed the automation industry – in both a home and a commercial building setting?

Regarding interoperability between different manufacturers’ products, KNX has always been best in class since the day it was conceived more than 30 years ago – and also thanks to KNX’s rigorous third-party product certification scheme. However, because of the plethora of other home and building automation solutions (whether proprietary or other protocols) and because of the widespread use of the internet, the market today expects that any system can be interacted with via mechanisms that are state of the art in the IT industry; and the means of doing this must be well documented.

Since 2004, KNX has offered the capability of communicating via IP, with the so-called KNXnet/IP protocol. Numerous perfectly working devices and solutions are available based on this technology. However, this approach has some shortcomings as regards IT friendliness and comprehensiveness. Therefore, it was necessary for KNX to expand into communication in the IoT world.

What does IoT contribute to home and building automation that earlier technologies could not?

Because of the above, we (the KNX Association) needed a solution that adds a layer of universal language (semantic data) on top of KNX interoperability, so that KNX will be open to any IT professional wishing to interact with KNX projects. This interface needs to exchange this KNX semantic data with state-of-the-art IT web technologies, not with KNX’s own protocol. In addition to this new technology, state-of-the-art encryption and authentication on this interface are a must.

In other words, an IT professional would expect not to learn the KNX protocol but simply to be able to retrieve the necessary data (such as what rooms does the installation consist of? What is controlled in the installation: lighting, sun shading…? What is the function of each product or application?…) to integrate the KNX project with any other product or solution (third party non-KNX devices). This is done by means of KNX IoT technology.

What are the main (cyber)security concerns around IoT projects, and how can they be successfully addressed?

It is indeed very important to guarantee secure installations, as well as data protection. KNX is a secure technology and we are determined to keep it so. Hence, it is important to prevent external attacks that might access the installations or people from reading the information sent, in case this is done via the internet.

KNX Secure guarantees maximum security by offering a double protection. KNX IP Secure extends the IP protocol in such a way that all transferred telegrams and data are completely encrypted. In addition, KNX Data Secure effectively protects user data against unauthorised access and manipulation by means of encryption and authentication.

Is KNX IoT compatible with traditional KNX technology?

Definitely! The new KNX IoT technology includes two ways of communication:

  • One the one hand, developers and manufacturers might use the KNX IoT third-party API, which is designed to support a websocket interface that enables, for example, direct cloud integration with bidirectional communication to enable the worlds of non-KNX products to communicate with KNX. This is already available.
  • On the other hand, as a next step, KNX wants to also release the KNX IoT Point API, a solution allowing IPv6 field level sensor / actuator (group) communication. This will allow KNX installations to be extended with devices that use other media to exchange KNX data. Thanks to this new KNX technology, KNX IoT products will have direct communication with KNX installations.

Where do you see the biggest opportunities for this technology?

KNX was born as a solution to integrate different applications from different vendors into one common project in the industry of smart home and building. In time, customers demanded more complex applications and new possibilities. Today’s professionals strive to meet their customer´s expectations by delivering one comprehensive solution. Here is where Services with KNX is born as a consequence of the unlimited possibilities that KNX IoT brings to the technology.

Thanks to Services with KNX, professionals will be able to extend their portfolio of possibilities to offer new services (such as a third-party contract for health monitoring in a home for elderly people). This new business opportunities will extend the possibilities for end-customers to integrate all the customer’s needs into one single project.

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