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Dissecting network architectures of home systems
Eifeh Strom, a&s International 2013/12/10

After traditional analog intercoms entered the digital age, connected homes gradually migrated to a full IP open architecture from pure security systems. Connected homes reached a new milestone when it finally crossed over from digital to network. Including full IP architecture, the market has been divided into three different types of connected home architectures: full IP, open, and wireless.

FULL IP ARCHITECTURE

The core of a full IP architecture is a network cable, which can be used to connect all controlled appliances. Using only one type of cable simplifies the installation process. Furthermore, many servers use the Android platform, which makes navigating the system easier for those already familiar with the Android operating system.

Technology for signal conversion and interoperability are no longer issues, making IP architecture for servers possible.

Within the IP architecture, due to the signal requirements for control equipment, the RS-485 signal, or earlier RS-232 or RS-422 signals, sent out from the terminal is first sent to a converter. The RJ45 port then sends out a TCP/ IP signal that then communicate with the server. The DI/DO and AI/AO signals for power switches and motor equipment work the same way. As long as the signal goes through a converter, it is able to communicate with different lighting, entertainment, security, HVAC, and fire safety equipment by using the network cable to connect to the server. In addition to paying attention to the specifications regarding the transfer and receiving of information, it must also coordinate with a PIN and I/O port.

Pros and Cons
Separately purchasing signal converters for security system, power switch, and window curtain motor terminals is needed to communicate with the interface. However, utilizing network transmissions is not only faster than industrial control signals, but allows for larger quantities to be transmitted.

Furthermore, new construction projects that use a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network architecture allow for unlimited broadband transmission, which provide an even better network communication environment for buildings and homes alike.

The advantages of integrated IP architecture are convenient construction, simple architecture, less wiring, and easy installation. IP architecture simplifies the backbone cabling, which makes it easier to locate the problem in the event of an equipment malfunction. OEMs can use external networks to conduct remote maintenance so that construction contractors do not have to physically go to the site — construction companies also do not have to worry about problems coming back to them.

In a true IP system, any equipment that has been tested and integrated by the OEM should only have to go through a RJ45 port to connect to the network driver in order to be used. Therefore, connected home appliances that comply with the same communications protocol, such as SIP (session initiation protocol), can establish various communications through different network environments.

The biggest deterrent of a full IP architecture is the high cost. Not only does this type of architecture require the additional purchase of a RS-485 signal converter, but purchasing more expensive hubs, switches, and APs will guarantee a more stable signal.

OPEN ARCHITECTURE

By removing the network signal converter from a full IP system and allowing the signal to directly communicate with the server results in an open architecture, which can be remotely controlled through a mobile platform.

Open architecture can enlist many different signals and cables, such as network communications signals like RS-485, RS-232, and RS-422, as well as DI/DO and AI/AO signals. Open architecture does not use IP equipment, does not convert signals, and directly links with the server.

As a result, the server must conform to a network communications standard and support other control signals in order to carry out individual and/or group automation.

Pros and Cons
Open architecture servers need to support earlier forms of communications. This has resulted in server designs needing more I/O interfaces instead of just needing to accommodate network communications signal protocols as they get faster. However, more complex servers and architecture may result in slower transmission speeds, as distance weakens the signal and connecting is more difficult than connecting to backbone cabling. Despite this, for those looking for IP properties and a more affordable solution, an open architecture is a good way to go.

WIRELESS ARCHITECTURE

Wireless connected home systems offers more than just the use of wireless remote controls, mobile phones, and tablet computers to remotely control. The biggest draw to wireless systems is that it is not restricted to using existing cables. Servers that support wireless transmissions like ZigBee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, and IR technology, can control everything from lighting, window curtains, HVAC, entertainment, security, and any other home appliance by coordinating with the wireless transmission module. From there users can manage their home appliances from their servers, touchscreens, mobile phones, and remote controls.

 

The ZigBee Alliance's wireless communications protocol became the widely used due to its maturity and ability to transmit large amounts of data over long distances via multiple nodes, their main competition in the home automation control market is Z-Wave's protocol.

Although wireless technology is not new, in order to guarantee accuracy and stability when remotely controlling, a lot of equipment is supplemented with wires that can connect to ZigBee, Z-Wave, or IR control modules.

Even though IR technology is limited and unable to perform uniformly in all directions or across long distances, the vast majority of remote controls for home appliances use IR technology. As a result, some connected home systems use IR simulators, using wires to connect to and control home appliances.

Pros and Cons
Users can use non-directional ZigBee remote controls, mobile device apps, or wall-mounted power switches to control home appliances by connecting to the server and sending out control signals. ZigBee uses the shortest wireless path, allowing the signal to transmit via cellular network. Every ZigBee controller comes equipped with a receiver and signal booster.

While wireless architectures have drawbacks such as higher cost and compatibility. An industry specialist emphasized that different standards still have their own proprietary technologies that do not usually talk to each other, which can cause big problems. However, for connected home manufacturers, adding wireless capabilities to their servers by installing a wireless transmission chip or module.

This allows builders to have a wired infrastructure as the foundation, which can then be extended to a wireless framework.

MATURITY OF NETWORKS AND WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY MAKE
CONNECTED HOME MARKET SMARTER.

Full IP connected homes are a product of the push for a network environment and advances in home construction. As network and wireless communication speeds develop, connected homes have made the transition from novelty item with few takers to practical and useful.

The linking of connected homes to mobile devices has exponentially raised their attractiveness and convenience. In turn, connected homes have become a rising star in the security industry, making security players from various backgrounds, including access control, surveillance, alarm, and intercom, eager to get in on the action. As connected homes continue to evolve, they will need to embrace different system levels. In addition to continually advancing their technology and expanding their application scope, companies need to quickly build partnerships in different fields.

Increasing the amount of integrated products in a more reliable way is the only way to have the connected home dream live up to the hype.

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Messe Frankfurt New Era Business Media Ltd. All rights reserved. 2019/10/16 print out