November 2014

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Control Solutions, Inc. - Minnesota

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Personal IoT interaction increases industry BAS expectations

My watch texts me with the fact and the time the garage door was left open. Useful information when I need it, where I need it, provided simply by IoT and a low cost DIY not wired sensor.

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The rapid deployment of personal IoT is putting pressure on our industry, because our clients expect the features they now have in their hands, pockets or on their body as wearables (watches and glasses) to play nicely with all that has been done before.

Our aging building automation systems are straining under the pressure to keep up, but the value of open standards from the past and patterns of evolving IoT ways light our path.

Personal experience and increased confidence in new technology greatly increases the rate of IoT evolution and adoption, raising questions as to why these features are not part of our today's BAS.

In the early days of the direct digital control revolution one of the biggest factures that allowed rapid acceptance of this new technology was the fact that everyone was starting to get a personal computer in their home. This adoption and hands on experience allowed them to quickly understand the potential power of the PC when connected to the new DDC control systems microprocessors.

Today our personal use of the cloud with smart phones and our BYOD of choice, plus the rapidly evolving Wi-Fi services in the home and everywhere greatly increases our understanding by demonstrating of the power of IoT greatly increasing the expectation of the large building automation industry.

I was annoyed when in my old web appliance home lighting interface stopped working. It was connected to my ancient lighting networked devices and had worked well for years while providing BYOD connectivity.

I soon found that this device was no longer made, but the good news was the replacement device, a Wi-Fi HUB, was of a similar cost and provided many new features.

I purchased this HUB as a replacement, eager to gain a better understanding of the new world of Wi-Fi cloud connected devices. There were several Wi-Fi HUB options on the market but few were able to support my 30 year old lighting X10 network.

First getting the device connected to the cloud highlighted how important system support is from wherever it comes from in the cloud.

First the simple sign on procedure did not work so called system support who determined the Wi-Fi HUB device was defective because this person at support could not set it up.

The pain of returning the device for replacement caused me to actually read the manual and by retrying the procedure I was able to get some functionality. The next call to system support was a completely different experience as the support person had not read the manual which was wrong, but was well versed in cloud connections and was able to find the device in the cloud and connect to the account within moments.

It appears it was not the device but the original support that was "defective".

Connection to my ancient lighting network was seamless; well I had to build new virtual points for each device and name.  Devices names on this device do not support haystack tagging yet.

So what was so different in this experience that will put pressure on our existing approach to BAS?

  1. The ease of taking HUB device out of box plugging into the wall and signing on the Wi-Fi router accessing the cloud and setting up the account.  Even with stumbling of support which sent us in the wrong direction for a while connection to cloud is simple. All this was done with a phone and an app, no personal computer was required.

  2. Ease of self-discovery of existing networks and wireless devices was seamless plus the connection of available IoT services. i.e. email and text handling all done at a device level.

  3. Ability of devices to interact without the HUB storing their own relationship rules; the start of autonomous systems.

  4. Ability to have devices report directly to IoT. Example reporting a leak condition or open garage door open from installed device with an email and/or text resulting in alarm coming directly to my watch with virtually no configuration just a check box.
  1. Ability to talk directly to simple devices such as a generic light bulb that fits into a hardware standard the Edison screw (ES) the standard mount for light bulbs developed by Thomas Edison and licensed in 1909. 

So how could we quickly make the leap from a 1909 light bulb standard to seamless Wi-Fi? Here are some products pushing the edge allowing us to talk and listen to our light bulb which opens up several new paths for interaction.


  1. Wireless Bluetooth light, speaker lamp, LED Bluetooth music bulb lights.
  2. Combining the LED saving-power with speaker technology, equipped with 5W LED light source, and meeting most of the lighting demands.
  3. Using 5W full-range speakers in the magnetic, fully sealed cavity, side ventilation holes, the music player playing well, and its Bluetooth can receive all kinds of players with the functions of Bluetooth. Such as, Mobile phone, MID, Laptop etc.

For more details please visit

So is Ken the only control freak messing with this stuff?  No above comments are being fueled by major big box retailers gearing up to stock and support connected home devices from a variety of vendors.

Still lots of problems in the Islands of Things.  Some concerns are outline in this article: 

Islands of Things (IoT)
10/13/14, Eric Ryherd, Express Controls  Today’s IoT reality is that we’ve got an enormous and rapidly growing number of Things being connected to the Internet, but very few of them talk to each other.

It is coming and it is coming quickly

Samsung: Smart homes arriving 'at speed we can barely imagine'  At the IFA electronics show, CEO Boo-Keun Yoon promised safer, healthier, and more energy-efficient homes and said the transformation will come as fast as smartphones did.

And it goes on Nest Buys Revolv, Takes Its Home Hub Off the Market

Thinking this all will not radically change our industry is wrong, ignoring it is dangerous.  We need to observe and rapidly adapt to the change upon us to survive.


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