Review of the Latest News on Building Controls

ABB Unveils Expanded free@home Solution

free at homeAs a pioneer in home and building automation, ABB has announced the integration of market leading products and services including Amazon Alexa, the Sonos wireless home sound system, and kitchen and home appliances into its ABB-free@home system, at the consumer electronics show, IFA 2017.

Designed to transform homes into intelligent spaces, the use of ABB-free@home means homeowners are able to control everything from their blinds and lighting to heating and door communication through either a switch on the wall, a laptop or smart phone for added convenience and flexibility. It is part of the ABB Ability portfolio of connected and software-enabled solutions delivering additional functionality to enhance customer value in a wide range of applications.

The integration of Amazon Alexa, Sonos, BSH and Miele home appliances (showcased at IFA on stand 104, Hall 2.2) further enhance this market leading innovation, creating an even more efficient, attractive and comfortable home environment for the customer.

Mike Mustapha, managing director of ABB’s Building Products business comments: “ABB launched free@home in 2014 to make it easier for installers to offer home automation, bringing the advantages enabled by the Internet of Things in to customers’ homes. In 2016, we provided access to smart home technology to even more consumers with the addition of a wireless solution.

“This latest announcement demonstrates our ongoing commitment to enhance our smart home solution and drive further demand in this rapidly growing sector.”

Integration of Alexa
From December onwards, users of ABB-free@home will be able to control lights, blinds, heating and scenes through Amazon’s cloud-based voice service simply by telling Alexa what they would like to do. For example: “Alexa, turn on the ceiling light”, “Alexa, set the temperature to 22 degrees”, or “Alexa, open the blinds”. All the user need do is link their Amazon account to their myABB Living Space account in the Alexa app and Alexa will be activated.

Integration of Sonos
The expanded free@home solution will allow Sonos speakers to be controlled from the ABB-free@home app, ABB-free@home sensors and the ABB-free@home Touch Panels. Users will be able to see and create speaker groups, start, stop, mute and skip songs and adjust the volume, enabling users to integrate their favorite music into scenes.

Integration of BSH and Miele Home Appliances
Available in 2018 for end customers, and also on-show at the IFA fair, is the integration of BSH and Miele home appliances into ABB-free@home. This allows the control and monitoring of refrigerators, stoves, coffee machines, dishwashers, washing machines and range hoods. Customers, for example, will be able to integrate the light of the range hood into scenes and control it with sensors from the wall or from the ABB-free@home app. Furthermore, alarms can be sent to the customer’s phone via email or push notification should the fridge be left open, and the stove can be integrated into the “All-off” scene.

Apart from the integration of various third-party products, ABB-free@home will allow the customers’ phone location to be tracked by its logic editor. That means that home functions, such as lighting, blinds and heating can be triggered depending on the location of the home owner. Should the system notice that all home owners or tenants have left the house, it can adjust the temperature to reduce energy usage. Or should someone enter a predefined zone on their way home, ABB-free@home can turn on the heating, so it is warm and cozy by the time the owner arrives home.

Mike concludes: “The integration of such technology into ABB-free@home demonstrates the exciting capability of ABB AbilityTM solutions in smarter buildings, unlocking the potential for increased automation in the home. Our aim is to make people’s lives easier and safer through the application of intelligent solutions and this latest announcement represents a significant step forward in achieving that.”

mozaiq, a startup founded by ABB, Cisco and Bosch provides an IoT marketplace to connect devices and services. As mozaiq can help advance the interoperability of home automation functions, ABB is able to deliver a fully connected home within one ecosystem. As an example of the future scope of such an open and flexible IoT marketplace, ABB is currently developing a ‘use case’ with Tunstall´s emergency call service to identify, clarify, and organize system requirements for homecare, which is available to view on the mozaiq stand at IFA (Hall 26.a, stand 201). Tunstall’s emergency call service system is installed in the resident’s/user’s home to provide a connection to an emergency call center and the service provider’s service center. This system from the leading provider of telehealthcare and communications solutions supports connection to ABB-free@home, enabling their staff to ensure predetermined actions are carried out, such as turning on lights or turning off televisions or radios, while they dispatch the required support.


Tags: ABB, Controls News, electrical industry, ABB-free@home