OBLO Living enters home automation arena

OBLO Living enters home automation arena
Nikola Smiljkovi, VP Products and Marketing, introduced OBLO Living offering to us and shared his observations on the smart home market.

OBLO Living (OBLO), is a subsidiary of RT-RK, an R&D company and national research institute that delivers development services and own products in the arena of real time embedded systems, with strong focus on consumer electronics and automotive. Headquartered in Novi Sad, Serbia, OBLO has offices in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Germany. With over 700 engineers, RT-RK is one of the biggest development houses in the Southeast Europe.

OBLO’s history goes back to 2010 when RT-RK developed a simple point solution comprised of a remote controller and wall dimmer/switch to enable wireless control of lights.

“At that time, RT-RK had a vision that ZigBee would be the dominating protocol in connected lightning products and hence selected ZigBee for their point solution. This vision still holds true since more than 90% of connected lightning products today are based on ZigBee,” said Smiljkovi.

Nikola explained the evolution of OBLO home automation system. “The next challenge for us was to enable the end user to control their devices from mobile clients. Firstly, we introduced a new device, home automation gateway, which converts Wi-Fi commands from the end user to ZigBee commands understandable by the nodes. Secondly, we kicked-off development of mobile client applications for Android and iOS devices. Thirdly, we launched cloud service, a technology that allows home control outside of the local network, and supports different home automation protocols, such as Z-Wave, Bluetooth and IP,” said Smiljkovi_.

After successful deployments of OBLO home automation system, RT-RK decided to spin-off their home automation business to the dedicated company OBLO Living.

“We combine our end-to-end software solution for home automation with in-house developed home automation devices and complementary nodes from our partners (Qubino, Philio, Leedarson, etc. to cover comfort, lightning, security and energy management aspects of the fast-growing home automation markets,” explained Nikola about OBLO products.

OBLO end-to-end software solution for home automation is comprised of OBLO Home Manager, Cloud Service and client applications. OBLO Home Manager is a software component that runs either on a home automation gateway device or is integrated within a host device software environment. It can be applied for Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G router, sound bar, NAS, etc., providing home control functionality. OBLO cloud service enables home control outside of the local network, and remote configuration and monitoring of home automation devices in the field. OBLO client applications allows the end user to control their home from an Android or iOS handheld device.

The central place in OBLO home automation system is reserved for a home automation gateway device. This stylish desktop gateway is based on a cost-effective “proven” SoC with outstanding LAN/Wi-Fi capabilities. It combines ZigBee, Z-Wave and IP home automation protocols and uses NFC for easier home automation nodes commissioning. Network routing features are available via software options from a Wi-Fi router or Wi-Fi repeater. The gateway is equipped with an external power supply for worldwide markets.

“In addition to the gateway device, we also developed and produce in Serbia a full range of ZigBee-based home automation nodes—smart plug, door/window sensor, battery scene controller, smart dimmer and outlet,” Smiljkovi added.

 “We believe that our solution perfectly fits service operators who wish to increase their subscriber base by introducing smart home service. Our cloud service, based on MQTT lightweight protocol, allows the operator to manage their smart home subscribers, provide technical support, perform remote diagnostics and configuration and data analysis. Our well defined client SDK for Android/iOS enables 3rd companies to develop smart home client applications. We also defined several kits that could be a perfect choice to start the service,” said Nikola.

However, the largest deployment of OBLO products are derived from distributors, who either re-brand or market OBLO products in retail. According to Smiljkovi, the last year has been pretty successful in this segment, as OBLO made a hit in the German, Austrian, Swiss and Italian markets.

At the end, Smiljkovi shared his observation on the smart home market growth. “Smart home market is at its beginning, and shipped volumes are not high. We see that there are many standards causing complexity – being probably the key problem for home automation to pick up. Additionally, people have got used to the point solutions. It will take a while for them to switch to a home automation system where they can control multiple things from a single app. We see IP cameras, lightning and energy management products as main drivers. We are well-prepared for whatever the future holds.”
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