ABB showcases plans for smart homes at IFA 2019

With spending on smart home services, including home automation, expected to reach $100 billion (£80.1bn) by 2020, ABB has big plans to expand its presence in the sector and is set to showcase its latest developments at this year’s IFA show in Berlin.

These new introductions are designed to provide the next level of safety and comfort for residents and unlock the potential of ABB’s new open API platform.

Highlights include the new ABBfree@home Alarm-Stick and the certified integration of Sonos with ABB i-bus KNX. ABB will also demonstrate the potential of its new open API platform, which gives scope to integrate hundreds of third-party apps and solutions with ABB’s technology.

The company is keen to show how its new open API platform will provide a central portal to attract developers to work with different APIs that integrate with ABB Smart Building’s ecosystems.

Oliver Iltisberger, Managing Director of ABB’s Smart Buildings business, says, “ABB has been at the forefront of accelerating progress in smart home technology for decades. We know that when it comes to people feeling at home, security and comfort are two of the most important factors. That’s why we’ve developed new and improved solutions to take smart home living to the next level, so that customers rely on ABB technology for a safe, smart and sustainable way of living.”

Key launches

Amongst the key platforms for the company is its ABB-free@home app, which already has almost five million components installed worldwide.

With the app, all ABB-free@home functions can be controlled remotely with the geofencing function allowing predefined scenarios to be set when the homeowner enters or leaves a defined area.

The home automation system provides over 60 functions and can integrate up to 150 devices per system.

With possibilities for wired and wireless connectivity and ABB’s new open API, which is now available for integration with third-party systems, ABB-free@home is designed to make home automation easier than ever.

Hazard detection

For a holistic fire protection solution, ABB is also launching its new Alarm-Stick, which integrates ABB’s smoke, heat and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors into ABB-free@home. The Alarm-Stick connects to the ABBfree@ home system access point via USB and communicates wirelessly to the detectors, using the VdS 3515 certified detector protocol, making the integration process easy.

Should a fire alarm go off, all detectors in the house will sound and a push notification will automatically be sent to the owner’s mobile phone, informing them of the cause of the alarm (fire or carbon monoxide), as well as which room the incident was detected in. It also provides the option to take additional measures, including switch on all the lights or opening the blinds. Off-site notifications are also possible with a subscription to the MyBuildings Portal remote access service.

The company is also showcasing upgraded connectivity, as ABB’s new System Access Point 2.0 can connect up to 150 wired and wireless devices in one simple, easy-to-use ABB-free@home system. It provides a commissioning interface and full visualisation for homeowners, from lighting to heating and ventilation and enables the use of cloud services.

Also on show is ABB-secure@home, billed as a user-friendly intrusion and alarm system for residential properties. As a complete wireless security system, it is designed to protect homes from the inside and the outside, including from intruders and incidents, such as flooding or fire. Configuration is done via the ABBsecure@home central unit, which sits at the heart of the system and can be used in combination with the ABB-free@home app.

The anti-intrusion system is based on wireless technology using 868.3 MHz. It features a proprietary protocol that uses a 128bit encryption together with a unique rolling code for all arming and disarming controls.

KNX enhancements

ABB’s Busch-ControlTouch KNX app solution has now been officially certified for integration with Sonos wireless speakers. ABB says the easy-to-use app for iOS, Android and Windows not only turns smartphones, tablets and PCs but also the Apple Watch, into practical remote controls for KNX systems.

With the text-to-speech function, commands typed into the Busch-ControlTouch device can be read by the Sonos speakers. The Sonos speakers can turn down the volume or play a defined tune when a certain event takes place, such as the doorbell ringing or the presence detectors sense someone approaching.

ABB says this is the first ‘Works with Sonos’ KNX product which also delivers integration to support voice over and text-to-speech functionality.

In addition to this new Sonos integration, the device offers other features, including a new visualisation with room pictures and small button controls, 16 internal room temperature controllers and an easier way of commissioning, thanks to the build-in wizard. Besides dimming and switching lights, controlling blinds and using scenes, the Busch-ControlTouch KNX also offers the possibility to integrate IP cameras, Sonos speakers and Philips Hue lamps.

Developed and manufactured in Germany, ABB is also introducing a new generation of switch actuators.

The new portfolio offers reliable switching of different electrical loads in ABB i-bus KNX installations. Beginning with the launch of the Combi Range, ABB has combined flexibility with compact design.

The new Combi Actuators offer both switching and shading functionality in a compact device and are ideally suited to dynamic requirements found in residential projects. This range includes devices with a rated current of 6, 10 and 16A, each with 8, 16 and 24 switching outputs. These digital ready components allow future feature extension for a smarter tomorrow.

Greater visibility

For smart buildings, data transmission to the cloud through the new ABB i-bus KNX IoT Dashboard will provide greater clarity on how the system is performing. It is possible to control all building functions, from lighting, blinds, and heating, through a single, dashboard. Any further KNX functions can be realised using ABB’s open API. This is designed to make life easier for installers and, ultimately, end users and also offers the possibility to integrate thousands of brands and applications into a smart building.

Also new are ABB-Welcome IP – ABB-VideoControl – ABB-AccessControl solutions which use IP connectivity to provide a holistic door entry system with easy commissioning and usage for enhanced security and communication. They provide interaction between door entry, access control and video surveillance. What is more, the solutions integrate smart home and soon also building automation control through our the ABB-Welcome IP Touch 7in panel.

The system can scale to manage 900 connected buildings with up to 2000 apartments per building.

With the upcoming ABB-VideoControl, the video surveillance system works with different cameras to stream videos 24 hours a day, seven days a week, accessible remotely. Videos can be stored on the local Network Video Recorded (NVR) or in the cloud. Additionally, remote access to door locks will be possible.

With the future launch of ABB-AccessControl, doors can become smarter as an embedded RFID chip will enable doors to open remotely, via an app or automatically according to time settings. ABB argues that comprehensive access rights management, together with time profiles and logging information makes ABBAccessControl the system of choice for your individual access solution.

The company is also introducing enhancements to its existing MyBuildings portal, powered by ABB Ability to allow installers to easily select the right components for their requirements.

In 2019, ABB’s MyBuilding portal will offer new services including remote control and management for ABB-Welcome IP and cloud storage for ABB-VideoControl. This will enable remote operation and video streaming together with the online storage of CCTV video and project data.

ABB also extends support for installers with the launch of its Smart Home Configurator with country specific versions. This configurator app facilitates the selection of light switches, sockets, and components for ABB-free@home.

ABB says its new open API platform doesn’t just unlock potential in the smart home arena. It will also be a key innovation for the smart building sector, providing unlimited possibilities to integrate third party apps easily and seamlessly with ABB solutions in the future.

Oliver concludes, “With this latest raft of enhancements, ABB now offers the most comprehensive range of smart home solutions in the marketplace. Through the launch of our new open API and links with our well-established partnerships, including Sonos, Amazon Alexa, B/S/H, Miele and Signify with its Philips Hue products, we are well placed to take smart home automation to the next level, so that we make our living spaces more comfortable, welcoming, environmentally friendly and secure for the future.”

Certainly not the first big company to launch into the smart home market, but make no mistake – ABB is very serious about creating a place within the sector, particularly in the new build sector. An advantage it does have over some systems is that its supply of many other components that go into the construction of a building, may give it an advantage in getting its smart home concepts in front of developers, before other systems are even considered. Its progress over the next couple of years will tell the tale.

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