Smart Home - Lacking standards and lock-in

Guido Arnold guido at
Tue Dec 16 23:25:25 UTC 2014

Hello Nico,

Very interesting subject!  I attended a talk by Kurt Gramlich [2]
earlier this year about it. 

(I think I saw him posting on this list at some point, but I'll BCC him to
this message to catch his attention - hence the full-quote below).

The condensed summary of the talk how I got it was: Kurt built a
low-energy house using FS and free hardware developed by an Austrian
company he is working with. A representative of that company was also
present. The various standards were also mentioned but my memory is
quite blurry on that. I hope Kurt can shed some light on that! :) 



On Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 09:20:27AM +0100, Nico Rikken wrote:
> 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,
> Nico
> [1]

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