BSH Commences Field Trials with Networked Smart@Home Home Appliances in Private Households

11/14/2002 - Thanks to networking, users are being offered new services and functions for their home appliances, such as remote control or handy tips and tricks. For instance having left the house, they can use their WAP cellphone to check the status of their cooker hob, and in an emergency can switch the appliance off.

Messages can be received in the house too: The washing machine in the cellar noti-fies the householder when its program is finished and the dryer needs loading, be-cause the next washing machine load is waiting.

And if an appliance should suffer an unexpected malfunction, then after an O.K. from the user by e-mail, customer service is informed of the appliance type and possible faults. Via a remote diagnostics system, it is then possible to establish whether the problem lies with the appliance, or whether an operating error has been made.

Product development for the smart@Home appliances involves retrofitting a range of products from the Siemens and Bosch brands with an extra module (system inter-face) for data communication via the 230V electricity cable (Powerline). The home appliances transfer their data to a so-called "Residential Gateway", which represents the network node between external networks - such as the internet or the GSM net-work - and the house network. The OSGi software for the gateway, developed by BSH in conjunction with ProSyst and Siemens, enables users to access their appli-ances with a WebPad inside the house, and using a Wap-capable cellphone from outside.

The Residential Gateway was developed in collaboration with Setrix and Siemens ICN.

The field study is expected to yield further results on acceptance of the product, pre-ferred features, the usability of the system and the willingness of the customer to pay. Those involved in the trials are expected to report on their experiences with the system, and provide details of the new features they would like to see. These results will be used in developing the second generation of products.

The OSGi-based gateway platform is characterized by the use of open standards, which opens up the possibility of other entities being integrated into the system. The appliances communicate with each other and with the Residential Gateway us-ing the KNX/EHS standard. Access to the system is via a Wireless-Lan (802.11b), using either a WebPad, PDA or PC. Communication outside the home takes place via the GSM radio network. This will be the basis for further developments in the future.

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