With the IoT growing bigger and ever more complex, the question arises for companies of how to keep pace. “We want to make sure that our solutions are running and being supported for many years to come,” says Mathieu Creteau, Lead Software Architect at the Hager Group. The electrical company is relying on industry standards to keep up with a quickly diversifying IoT landscape. Creteau shares insights on the advantages of standards and explains how the company leverages them.
Smoothing IoT development
OSGi is an important pillar of Hager’s standards-based approach. The OSGi framework specifies a modular software architecture based on Java. Being modular means that applications are no longer treated as one single piece of software; rather, they are split into bundles (software modules), which brings a wealth of advantages to IoT development.
“OSGi allows us to reuse components that are already available. With the multiplicity of IoT devices, it’s more or less mandatory for us to use it,” Creteau says. Apart from being able to port features from one solution to another, Creteau also sees other ways in which OSGi is smoothing IoT development: its modular structure allows Hager’s developers to work on different aspects of applications in parallel. This leads to efficiency gains. In addition, new features can be added rather quickly, which helps with future proofing applications. “There is also a large developer community behind Java. This makes it generally easy to find new developers.”
How does Hager use OSGi in practice? Creteau cites the home energy management system the company developed for Audi as an example. This system is used to integrate the Audi e-tron into the smart home infrastructure by orchestrating the electricity flow in the house and making the charging process more efficient. As an expert in home energy management, Hager had already implemented solutions based on OSGi gateways before. With Hager Energy, they had a system in place that is able to communicate with a wallbox and other in-house electricity consumers or providers, such as photovoltaic systems. Thanks to OSGi, Hager could reuse components from this solution in its new home energy management system. “We were able to draw upon a core solution we already had and easily port features to the new system.”
Hager is a leading provider of solutions and services for electrical installations in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. For a few years now, the company has been developing solutions for energy management and e-mobility management – for example, electric vehicle charging stations.Discover Hager Group
Interoperability is another aspect that draws Hager toward using standards. Creteau sees interoperability as a facilitator of successful cooperation between different market players. “There are always new partnerships on the horizon. Therefore, it is crucial for us to have systems that are compatible with others. Standards allow us to smoothly integrate our product and solutions with those of different companies and thus improve the end user experience.”
One such standard facilitating interoperability is EEBUS. This specification is defined by an alliance of more than 70 companies that are linked to the smart home domain. Their goal: to make devices from different vendors speak the same language, and thus compatible with each other. EEBUS plays an integral role in the home energy management system that Hager developed for Audi. There, it ensures that all the different components from different manufacturers work well together. This is a valuable benefit, as it would have been much harder to set up such a home energy management system if individual solutions had been necessary to make the different components compatible with each other.
Akin to EEBUS, KNX is also about ensuring interoperability. This standard revolves around the networking of electrical installations. Hager is a big KNX proponent and makes extensive use of it. Hager’s home automation system domovea, for instance, builds upon KNX and brings together KNX components, IP cameras, and IoT devices on one platform. The system allows users to control devices in their homes via a smartphone or tablet – shutters or lights for example. It is also possible to set home automation rules and create home automation scenarios. However, KNX is not the only standard that Hager draws upon for domovea. With the recent release of domovea V2, the system is now also fully based on OSGi technology.
Standards are the way to go
Aspects like smoothing development processes or ensuring interoperability are what make standards indispensable in the IoT. They bring order to a diverse IoT landscape and give companies a solid base to build upon. As Creteau puts it: “We want to support our products and solutions for as long as we possibly can. We don’t want to have to constantly start from scratch and see our previous work become obsolete.” Therefore, drawing upon well-established standards is the way to go for Hager.