Smart Home - Lacking standards and lock-in

Nico Rikken nico.rikken at
Tue Dec 16 08:20:27 UTC 2014

Hello everyone,

A topic I'm interested in is the field of home automation and home
energy management, which are highly related.

I'm curious how you conceive the developments in this field, in your
country and for your use-case.

The availability and quality of hardware and software in this field has
increased rapidly in the last couple of years and I can only assume
adoption is increasing likewise. With smart-home targeted interfaces
being included in an increasing number of appliances, and with gateways
being offered as a gift, the barrier to home automation is being lowered
for the general consumer.

I'm however concerned about the lack of open standards and the related
purposeful creation of a lock-in.

In the Netherlands there are about a dozen companies developing gateways
and some home automation components, often times with a cloud-based
back-end. Some are developing in accordance to standards like Z-Wave,
Zigbee and OpenTherm, whilst others have defined their own Application
Profiles on top of the Zigbee communication stack (Plugwise) or have
developed RF-based communication (FifthPlay).

Not using proper standards is becoming more of an issue now that in NL
energy companies are offering gateways as part of the contract, both as
a nice-to have device and as a way to help save energy. People are
however coming to find that some of these systems sold by their energy
company become pretty much useless when they cancel their contract,
since a large part of the added value is in the data-services by the
energy company. They end up with a stand-alone device which was never
intended to be used stand-alone.
This practice of lock-in also comes into play with custom communication
standards, such that replacing the gateway would require you to ditch
the additional devices as well.

Whilst being proper standards, the specifications of Z-Wave and Zigbee
(Application Profiles) aren't as open as some other available protocols
[1]. Likewise there is a lack of standardisation in gateway interfaces
for third-party applications to tie into these systems.

How do you conceive these developments, and is there a FSFE-angle to
this story?

Kind regards,


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