Research activities on Smart Home
TARA Systems has spent over 20 years developing TV and STB software solutions. TV is, of course, one of the most familiar media used by people and can be found at the heart of every home. Thanks to the increasing computing power of televisions and set-top boxes, these devices can now be used for other applications such as home automation and surveillance.
It is therefore a logical development for us to apply our many years’ experience in embedded systems in the consumer sector and user experience to smart home applications. We see further synergies arising in the form of multi-screen applications, both for television-related products and in controlling smart home solutions.
The following selected projects demonstrate the experience we have accumulated in smart home technologies:
Smart Home from Scratch - Lessons Learned
At this year's Smart Home Summit Manuel Melic, Product Manager of Embedded Wizard, held a lecture about his activities, experiences and the lessons learned from the four years of living in a DIY smart home together with his family.
Evaluation of various Smart Home Solutions
In order to obtain an overview of the existing smart home landscape with regard to functionality, user experience and customer benefits, we have systematically tested a number of the available solutions on the market. We have tested the systems at home and documented our experiences in everyday operation on the basis of a range of criteria.
During the investigation, we focused on systems which enabled integration into a larger infrastructure (especially gateways). With the exception of some high-priced overall integrative systems, the majority of solutions found on the market are stand-alone solutions. Most recent approaches that also aim to ensure a positive user experience are at too early stages of development to be reliable and are currently unable to satisfactorily fulfil their value proposition.
Participation in a Smart Home Strategy Workshop organised by the Future Management Group
The workshop highlighted future scenarios and future market trends in the smart home field, with contributions from experts in a number of sectors, including manufacturers of TV/STB devices, utility companies, manufacturers of pump controls and home automation, as well as telecommunications companies.
Implementation from Scratch of a Smart Home Control System using a PLC (programmable logic controller)
When one of our team was recently building a new home, this gave us the opportunity to create a fully integrated smart home based on a programmable logic controller (PLC). We handled every aspect of the project, from selecting the hardware components to programming the control software for the heating, alarm system, ventilation, utilities metering, RGB controllers for lighting, integration of the Fritz!Box, and controls via several in-home displays. We also used TARA Systems´software components. Our application-oriented research focused in particular on creating an optimal gateway software architecture and selecting the most appropriate technologies. Performance (e.g. max. response time for light switches <100ms) and absolute reliability were the biggest challenges.
Alumin - STB for Elderly People (FZI)
"Alumin" was a joint R&D project of TARA Systems GmbH and the Research Center for Information Technology (FZI) in Karlsruhe. The goal of Alumin was to establish an easy-to-use Set-top box platform, which integrates TV functionality with services in the context of "Ambient Assisted Living" (AAL). The Alumin project was supported by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi).
Smart Metering - Monitoring of Energy Consumption on STB (SWM)
TARA Systems developed a technology to broadcast server-hosted meter statistics (electricity, gas, water) to Set-top boxes at households without internet access and displays these values on screen, integrated into the user interface. For this project, TARA Systems teamed up with a leading German energy provider.
GUI Implementation of Mecahome+ for Metz
TARA Systems implemented the GUI (using Embedded Wizard technology) for an innovative new connection between a Metz TV set and wireless eHome components from Moeller's Xcomfort series. Thus consumers can easily control room temperatures, check motion detectors or the door bell, or simply switch on different light scenes using the familiar TV menu and remote control. With mecaHome+, Metz provides more information, safety and comfort to its premium customers.
DVB-Application TVolutionX for Moeller, Eaton
TARA Systems´ Inaris DVB Middleware was integrated to interact with Moeller's wireless actuators and sensors for building automation to control lights and electric home appliances, to get notifications about door bell or motion detectors and more.