By George Lazos, Quantum KNX++ Training Centre.
This year Light+Building (Frankfurt, 13-18 March) managed to score a new record of 2,589 exhibitors from 55 countries and a total of 216,000 trade visitors from 160 countries, all looking for innovative products, solutions and new business opportunities.
Visiting the fair, especially for L+B newbies, is a life-changing business experience. This is the place where you can touch and feel new electrical, decorative and lighting products and tools, and if you are interested in KNX, this is THE place to be. The presence of the KNX logo in every corner of the massive fair was so impressive, as was the huge range of new KNX products on show. The KNX Association itself was based in the ‘KNX IoT city’ in the Galleria area of the fair, and its marketing messages were very clear.
The KNX Secure Message
No more unsecured KNX telegrams! According to the KNX Association, KNX Secure will allow the creation of secured communication channels between KNX participants. For this purpose, the sequence identification is changed by a timer stamp that ensures that no hacker can sabotage the device or installation, as there will be a timer mechanism controlling the access, so that fake telegrams will not be read as real telegrams. The procedure is based on worldwide-established security protocols and can be integrated seamlessly into existing KNX systems.
The ETS Inside Message
ETS Inside is a new concept that is due for release in October. It is designed to make the creation of KNX projects fast and easy for the residential and light commercial market. ETS Inside comprises two parts: the back end which is the ETS program, and the front end, which is a simplified user interface displayed on a mobile device. The principle is that the ETS program will be stored within an ETS Inside-compatible KNX device (there was one at the show). This is connected to a mobile device which can be used to configure other devices on the network, and these can be a mixture of ETS Inside and ETS Professional devices. The easily-understandable user interface runs on tablets and smart phones, and allows, for example, secured remote control of one’s home with just one touch.
For more detailed programming, ETS Inside projects are readable by ETS Professional, and changes made using ETS Professional will be readable by ETS Inside. Since the program remains with the project, changes can be made at any time by anyone, including a limited number by the end-user. ETS Inside is expected to cost 160 Euros including dongle.
The KNX in USA Message
The U.S. market was always a major target for KNX. While it is the fortress of proprietary systems, it seems that since the foundation meeting of KNX USA during the Lightfair International exhibition in New York in May last year, the game is changing. To celebrate, the KNX IoT city at L+B was built like Times Square in Manhattan, with tall booths and big screens playing endless videos promoting KNX.
In addition, the USA played centre stage at the KNX Top Event – an evening of entertainment and celebration that was kicked off by an Oliver and Hardy tribute act which toggled the auditorium’s lights by touching the KNX logo. This was followed by examples of KNX projects from the USA, a Marilyn Monroe tribute act, and a ‘live’ link up with Times Square. With currently just 30 KNX-certified Partners and only one KNX-certified training centre, KNX USA represents a great opportunity to develop a huge market.
The KNX Internet of Things (IoT) Message
Over recent years, the term Internet of Things (IoT) has become mainstream, and we will be talking about it for years to come. The IoT looks like a global technology movement that will affect every industry in the near future, and it is a message that the KNX Association has received loud and clear.
It presented KNX Web Services (KNX WS) as a communication solution between the KNX of Things (KNXoT) and the Internet of Things (IoT). By using KNX WS, the IT industry can develop advanced KNX IoT gateways without the need for KNX knowledge, and with these gateways, billions of things can communicate bidirectionally with a KNX installation in an extremely easy way.
New KNX Developments
I was more than glad to see apps at L+B such as the smart app KNX from Ise. This connects KNX building control with the broad IP camera portfolio from Axis, and allows two-way communication. For example, if the camera detects motion, it sends an alert to KNX; if KNX detects motion it sends a trigger to the camera to record; sabotage attempts send an alarm to KNX; and if the camera has technical problems, these are signalled to the user via KNX.
Software is Everything
Apps such as the one described above seem to be pointing to need for a KNX app store. Imagine the benefits of certified KNX apps for IP and/or IoT devices that have to communicate with a KNX installation, without requiring additional KNX-certified hardware!
With the Lingg & Janke ‘KNX quick’ it seems that you can have a quick and basic KNX installation using just a screwdriver, without the need for in-depth KNX knowledge. KNX parameterisation is already included in the devices and is selected through their coding switches. All that is required then, is to push in a screwdriver. Job done. For documentation purposes, a single photo of every device is enough to help the installer remember who is talking to whom. The devices can also be programmed via ETS.
KNX and Apple HomeKit Compatibility
Another first on show was a device that is compatible with Apple Home Kit, KNX and EnOcean at the same time. The Panno S from enno is a wall control panel with metal-touch buttons, a user-friendly mobile app, and Siri voice control. This is an interesting integration that brings the Apple HomeKit automation ecosystem into the hands of the KNX Integrator, and I hope to see more devices implementing this idea in the future.
Light+Building is the temple at which KNX believers from all over the world come to worship, and visiting the show is like going on a business holiday. It refreshes your business-self with new ideas, feeds your business instinct and expands your human network with new, brilliant people, in an international environment.
Globalisation demands global businesspeople and even more global skills. KNX, as the worldwide standard for home and building control, is a global skill. The KNX world is dynamic, extremely active and its community never sleeps! That is the message that I have taken away with me following every L+B fair so far, and I will certainly be back for the next Light+Building show (18-23 March 2018).
George Lazos is an Electrical Engineer, Data Networks Engineer, KNX Tutor++ and Founder of Quantum KNX++ Training Centre. Quantum provides training, coaching and consultancy for smart buildings and smart cities, business development, marketing and project management, specialising in the fields of building engineering and systems integration.