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JAX Innovation Awards 2014 Spotlight: openHAB

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 nominees.

Category: Most innovative Open Technology

Technology: openHAB

Interviewees: Kai Kreuzer and Thomas Eichstädt-Engelen

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 you?

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 base.

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.



Lucy Carey

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