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JAX Innovation Awards 2014 Spotlight: openHAB

Lucy Carey

Inside the open Home Automation Bus project, which is aiming to be your go-to for all home automation needs.


Over the last month we’ve had many interesting and diverse
nominations sent our way for the JAX Innovation Awards 2014, in the
form of Most innovative Java Technology, Most innovative Open
Technology, and Most innovative Open Tech Business. Community
voting is open until May 12th – make sure to get yours in, and give
the people making genuine waves in the industry the recognition you
think they deserve. Click here to get submitting! This
interview is part of a special series showcasing our final

Category: Most innovative Open

Technology: openHAB

Interviewees: Kai Kreuzer and Thomas

1) Can you tell our readers a little more
about openHAB?

The project openHAB (open Home Automation Bus) was
founded as an open source project in early 2010 by Kai Kreuzer for
his own home automation needs. The Java-based project uses OSGi for
modularization and builds on a number of Eclipse projects such as
Equinox, Jetty, EMF and Xtext . Due to the clear architecture and
the resulting easy expandability of the software, a very active
community quickly formed around it.  This community provides
numerous contributions and is responsible  for an ever growing
list of supported technologies (currently about 70 – http://www.openhab.org/features-tech.html) .

2) Can you explain what problems you solve
with your technology?

The home automation and IoT market is very complex and
fragmented. Almost every day, new producers with new devices enter
the market. Most frequently however, these manufacturers offer
their own app and its own proprietary backend. Therefore, it is
almost impossible to realize on the Eclipse Smart Home Project,
also founded by us (see http://www.eclipse.org/smarthome)
. Along with this there will be a number of new features, such as
new user interfaces for the setup and configuration process and
modularizable rules (Modules) .

3) Who are your main users?

The target group for openHAB are tech-savvy
users who want to control their home automation devices and service
landscape comfortably and do not want to engage in a vendor lock-in

4) What’s on the roadmap ahead for

In addition to many small targets , such as the
integration of new technologies that are currently already
available as a pull request , we plan to release our version 1.5 by
the end of May (preliminary release notes see https://github.com/openhab/openhab/wiki/Release
Notes 1.5

In addition, we will soon start the development
of openHAB 2.0. This release will be the first release

5) Why do you think Open Technologies are
important for truly innovative IT?

Only open technologies can be easily adapted by many
and therefore ultimately lead to success. Without the openness
there would be no community around openHAB now, and without this
community not so many different technologies would be supported
today. But the sheer number of supported technologies is key to the
success of the platform. This success means that more developers
are willing to join the community, which in turn binds more
technology to the platform … and so on! A closed system couldn’t
keep up with this rate of development indefinitely.

All-embracing automation logics. The temperature and
air quality values ​​of, for example Netatmo sensors can normally
not be converted into color values ​​and then displayed with a
Philips Hue device, unless that is already provided from the outset
by the manufacturer.

openHAB solves this problem by connecting the
different technologies via openHAB bindings. For this, the external
data and protocols are converted into an internal data format .
Cross-Device User Interfaces and rules can then operate on this
uniform internal format.

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