Develco Products: Adding a flexible framework for the connected home

Develco Products: Adding a flexible framework for the connected home
The hype surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT) in the home is growing rapidly as the battle for the IoT gateway gets underway. As such, platforms that seamlessly integrates with nearly any vendor’s IoT application are the ones most likely to stand out. Hence, multiple home platforms have emerged in recent years, designed to capitalize on or create an ecosystem of smart home things that the gateway must connect to. Some of the platforms are beginning to open up, or at least work with others to minimize the different number of platforms that the consumer and the gateway must deal with.

Although unbeknownst to some outside Europe, Develco Products has long been offering devices and communications systems that enable solution providers in the region to build customized solutions for their end-users.

Open platform says it all

A spin-off from Develco in 2007, Develco Products has since built a unique position within the field of wireless communication, where it currently offers an array of devices that consists of meter interfaces, smart plugs, sensors, alarms, and gateways combining different technologies and protocols.

“Our open gateway is based on a programmable Linux-platform that supports Java and OSGI. This enables our customers to build their own applications on top of it,” said Poul Møller Eriksen, VP of Business Development at Develco Products.

Dubbed the Gateway, the platform is modular and can handle many different wireless protocols at the same time, including options for ZigBee, Z-Wave, Wireless M-Bus and WLAN HAN networks. This also means that it is not restricted to a single wireless protocol which gives developers the ultimate flexibility.

“The way we see is that when building an application, it can be expensive to have multiple networks, and as such, having an open platform provides more flexibility,” Eriksen explained, however citing to SMAhome that he believes there will not be a single wireless communication standard that does everything in a home.

According to the company executive, Develco’s customers are typically utility providers or software companies that need a hardware platform. “This means we don’t compete in any level of applications. For instance, we have one group of competitors that provides turn-key solutions, while the other provides devices…and so there aren’t many others that provide the complete hardware platform like we do.”

Growth in hem systems

According to recent studies by Parks Associates and Gartner, energy saving and comfort are considered to be the main drivers on the European market, followed closely by safety and security. For European consumers, the primary concern is reducing energy costs, thereby making metering interfaces and home energy management systems popular choices for adoption. Meanwhile, due to Europe’s aging population and the extended wish to be able to continue to live independently at home for as long as possible, the healthcare sector within the smart home is also witnessing an upward trend.

Commenting on the home energy management sector, Eriksen said the latter is a growing business in Europe. “Currently, Norway is one of the first countries in Europe to adopt flexible pricing for private households…so in Norway it is very important to be able to control the energy according to the grid,” Eriksen said, adding that in recent years, the market has completely transitioned into having a gateway and using mobile devices and PCs as management tools for energy consumption.

To date, Develco Products manufactures wireless communication interfaces for meters, which allows for monitoring and analysis of household consumption of electricity, water, heat, or gas and making the consumption patterns available for both users and suppliers alike. And for the first time outside continental Europe, it will be introducing their solutions to North America during the IoT Tech Expo in Santa Clara this coming October, according to Eriksen.

What lies ahead?

Although millions of smart home devices and new solutions continue to be churned out annually, the market is nevertheless highly fragmented and confusing for end-users concerned about brand longevity, customer care and reliability.

“I see two things moving. The first is trying to get more people to know more about the smart home, and the second is getting developers to create and roll out platforms and hardware that can run services from different vendors,” he explained.

Eriksen exemplified that getting consumers to pay 300 Euros to use their cellphones to simply switch a few connected devices on and off will never work out in the smart home business, let alone having them to pay the same amount of money just to help save a measly five percent off their monthly energy bills.

“Looking from a consumer’s perspective, if I could pay 300 Euros to get an alarm system, remote control, and devices that come with energy-saving features and the whole shebang, I’d be more likely to pay for those services,” he said, citing that he expects more and more service providers to be heading this direction in the foreseeable future.

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