The e-magazine for KNX home & building control

Industry Opinion: Where to Next for KNX?

According to the recent BSRIA report, KNX is the leading control protocol in the European and Chinese smart home and light commercial markets. This is very encouraging for the industry, but as KNX is not yet a household name, there is still much to do. We asked a number of leading lights about how the industry can consolidate KNX’s position and ensure that the standard gains ground worldwide. Here are their replies:

Franz KammerlFranz Kammerl, President of KNX Association international

From the KNX Association’s point of view, there are a number of factors that are helping the standard grow worldwide:

• The market is increasingly demanding open systems, which KNX has been since its inception. Proprietary solutions are falling out of favour.
• KNX is well prepared for the Internet of Things. We have done our homework.
• In terms of security, KNX is perfectly positioned with its latest release, and manufacturers will soon be coming up with products that support this.
• The constant upgrading of functionality whilst retaining backward compatibility in KNX is paying off. We’ve always put the customer first.
• Having just one tool for all products and configuration tasks, independent of manufacturer, is a very important feature for our customers as well.
• Certification as the guarantee that interoperability between KNX products really works, is also a key part of KNX’s success worldwide.

We are already seeing KNX enjoying a great position in many countries, and we are, day by day, gaining more market share in upcoming territories.

Jack HeJack He, Sales & Marketing Director, HDL

KNX is getting more and more popular in China and all over the world. There is huge potential for KNX growth if we focus more on the following:

Standards – we need to stress the importance of using an open standard/protocol as security for all types of home and building. Non-standard solutions or technologies are declining in popularity throughout the industry because most people are afraid of future lack of support for them.

Wireless – nowadays, ZigBee, Z-Wave, BTL, Wi-Fi, RF etc are hot topics, and KNX should ride the crest of this wave. While it may not be as simple as we think, if we don’t focus more on wireless, KNX will miss out in the residential market.

Reaching out – KNX must play a more important role in the daily lives of ordinary people, so we need to work directly with property developers in different countries. The most important thing for KNX is to get people to use it, not just talk about it. The more people who know about it and use it, the better for KNX’s future development.

Julian BarkesJulian Barkes, KNX Sales and Marketing, Bemco

Firstly, this is great news that KNX is viewed as the leading control protocol across such a broad geographic footprint, and by a well-respected organisation such as BSRIA. It really does show the appeal of the global standard. It’s interesting that the report goes on to predict that the UK will be the largest growth market this year, with an expected growth of 29%. This is consistent with the level of increased interest in KNX training and specified KNX projects that we are seeing.

I’d like to see KNX Association push on with a faster roll-out of ETS Inside and other innovations to capitalise on this good news, so that a wider audience still, can appreciate the flexibility that KNX offers – not just in the mansion market, but also in the retrofit/Amazon Alexa market.

GuillermoGuillermo Rodríguez García, Cofounder and CEO, Iddero

Over the last few years, KNX has become the preferred standard for home and building automation among professional system integrators all over Europe, and recently also in China. Probably the main drivers for this have been product interoperability and manufacturer independence, both of which contribute to lower perceived risks for systems integrators.

On the other hand, the benefits of KNX for end-users and property-owners (often the decision- makers) have not been that clear. For a long time, home and building automation has been a niche market. In particular, the KNX landscape has been dominated by a few major players whose business was typically somewhere else; as a consequence, KNX products were generally overpriced. More often than not, proprietary solutions were more affordable than their KNX-based equivalents, and their problems and drawbacks were not immediately apparent.

However, the industry is now at an inflection point: improvements in technology and lower manufacturing costs (and thus lower entry barriers) have led to an increase in competition, which in turn has led to lower prices, helping KNX make its way into more homes and buildings than ever before. Combine this with the recent moves from big companies such as Apple, Amazon, or Google, and there’s little doubt that home and building automation is gaining momentum.

Where to go from here? The key word is ‘integration’. The increasing popularity of cloud-based services and applications opens up many new opportunities. KNX manufacturers need to recognise these opportunities, and try to find innovative (and effective) ways to integrate these new classes of cloud-based services and applications in their KNX-based products. On the other hand, the role of the KNX Association should be to incorporate these services and application into the KNX standard in a way that preserves interoperability between KNX products as much as possible. These are not easy tasks, of course, but we are sure that the KNX community will be up to the challenge.

Olaf StutzenbergerOlaf Stutzenberger, Global Marketing Manager, Building Automation, ABB

The recent BSRIA study proves that KNX has managed to get a good share of the market and is growing year by year. For us, the reason for this huge success is the technical interoperability of KNX products, and the great team work between integrators, national groups, training centres, scientific partners and manufacturers. This sets the scene for geographic expansion and provides a unique and huge asset towards new fields of applications and business models.

Using KNX means cost advantages throughout the entire lifetime of a project: from planning and implementation, through the building phase, sale or rental, right up to operation and administration. This ensures that the building will be up-to-date and profitable in the long-term, thus ensuring a short amortisation period. No other system is able to provide a similar range of advantages. The KNX standard has evolved during the last 27 years and will further develop to tackle the needs of the Internet of Things and services.

Simon JohnsonSimon Johnson, Sales Engineer, Theben

The recent BSRIA report highlights the strength of KNX in both Europe and China with massive potential for growth as the smart home sector drives forward over the next few years. The appetite in the UK for smarter homes is certainly gaining pace with help from devices such as Nest, Sonos and Amazon’s Echo. Homeowners are now discovering the features and benefits of smart home devices and are expecting more than a rotary dimmer switch in their lounge.

The next generation of home buyers/renters – the so called ‘Millennials’ or ‘Generation Y’ – will simply not accept a ‘standard’ home; they have grown up with technology and expect it to be available in every part of their lives. KNX has a great opportunity to fulfil this desire, not just in high-end properties, but in flats and shared living spaces. The advantages of KNX have been clear and well documented for more than 20 years: open protocol; 400+ manufacturers; choice. As an industry, we need to promote to the end-user that a professionally-installed KNX system is quite simply the best choice and the perfect backbone for their smart home.

Colin PriceColin Price, President of KNX National Group of New Zealand and Director and Founder of Ivory Egg

It has been my privilege over the last 18 years to be involved with the evolution of the KNX market, from bleeding edge to leading edge. What must happen now is for the KNX brand to become mainstream and understood – from manufacturer, to wholesaler, to installer, to building user – as the glue that enables the electrical bits and pieces in a building to work together.

This needs a huge shock-and-awe campaign from the KNX Association so that the world knows that KNX exists. It represents an enormous opportunity for the current manufacturers and will bring the scary involvement of the world’s largest retail players. But without that, I worry that KNX will superseded by organisations who do more marketing.

KNX has to get out of the workshop and onto the high street and become to electrical installation what concrete is to foundations.

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JUNG area / line coupler

JUNG area / line coupler
The JUNG area / line coupler connects two KNX lines while retaining electrical isolation. Across publicly accessible areas, such as corridors ...