Interview with Dr Michael Westermeier, Product Manager, Smart Homes, RWE in Germany. He is a speaker in the ICT & Data Management track at the upcoming European Utility Week.
1) You will speak at European Utility Week on Implementing a standard, multi-gateway: real smart home in the cloud – can you give us a sneak preview of your talk?
I’ll explain our RWE SmartHome System: Its history starting as a very reliable, proprietary approach and its future which we see as an open but very secure and stable platform approach. Therefore we are seeking platform partnerships. Beyond that we have developed a broader RF-communication protocol which uses modern, standard IP technologies like TCP/IP and XML and combines the “intelligent” Internet Tablet/ Smartphone world with the more “basic” home appliances like radiator thermostats, switches, sensors etc. to enable new applications. I’ll give the strategic and technical background to this approach in my talk.
2) Proprietary systems vs. open standards – what are the advantages and risks?
We started RWE SmartHome as a proprietary system which offers a very reliable and secure eco-system in a limited development time. Our range of customer devices is already huge so that we can address several use cases like heating, lighting, electrical energy, security devices etc. However, we’ll now start opening the system gradually to an open platform approach but still keep the level of reliability and security. For end-customers it is very important to have different device suppliers and interoperable, open systems.
3) What do you think the main challenges are in implementing a standard multi-gateway?
In my point of view it is important to have gateway solutions which do not need much intelligence themselves like protocol language translation, function translation etc. but fit into the “normal TCP/IP internet infrastructure”. Right now, the technology is far enough developed to include embedded devices like home control appliances into the “internet of things”.
4) What surprises you most in this market?
It surprises me most that all the people, both consumers and experts, within this market talk about the attractiveness and upcoming interest in smarthome systems which will rise significantly within the next few years. However, there are still only few companies actively involved and selling suitable systems for these customer needs.
5) Future perspective: Where is the intelligence of next-generation smart home systems based?
In my point of view, the smarthome intelligence of next-generation systems will shift gradually from home gateways to powerful cloud services which can involve many more aspects and more information than a system locally at home. With IPv6 structure and consistent usage of internet language, our new protocol and smarthome system already meets all the technical requirements for taking this step into the future.
6) What will be your main message at European Utility Week in Amsterdam in October?
SmartHome Systems for end-customers can and will be successful in the near future whenever they are secure but open for interoperability, with strong platform partnerships and when they are directly integrated in the existing world of (mobile) internet devices like smartphones, tablets, PCs and so on.
7) What are you most looking forward to in Amsterdam?
Interesting discussions, new products and more companies taking the step towards connected home appliances.
8) Anything you would like to add?
Looking forward to meeting you in Amsterdam!