After two years of research, Snom Technology now holds a patent in the field of building automation and control of smart workplaces via VoIP terminals.
At the end of 2022, the well-known IP telephone manufacturer Snom Technology GmbH was granted the European patent for developing the method to control KNX-capable devices using non-KNX-capable IP devices. The patent itself confirms that IP terminals are far more than mere communication solutions.
The premium provider has pursued the strategy of integrating IP telephones as a component of building automation for some time now. Intensive research has been carried out over the past two years on the KNX open standard and its potential to interact with IP terminals, helping to develop a KNX gateway that reduces the costs of KNX systems. Users are already familiar with the advantages of this system, in which economic factors play a major role in the choice of components.
KNX is an open standard for building automation which can be used across a variety of different manufacturers. The system is one of the most popular bus systems for building automation in Europe and Asia, and is designed as a decentralised bus system, meaning that malfunctions have a minimal impact on the rest of the installation. These, and other details of KNX-based communication between sensors and actuators, necessitated the development of a KNX URL gateway for home and building automation.
“The right control and visualisation device for all application areas is already available with our telephones, whether it’s a static device in our desk phones or a mobile device with our DECT solutions,” says Simón Golpe Varela, software developer at Snom Technology GmbH, who is the KNX integrator and inventor of the process. “Lighting and heating control are just the latest functionalities, with many others on the horizon. This means our end devices also significantly contribute to energy savings.”
For example, the patented process means Snom’s D735 desk phone can now continually regulate light in the workplace via already integrated sensors. With a few additional components (such as a USB temperature sensor), all Snom desk phones can also control KNX heating actuators.
By configuring the function keys, Snom desk phones can also act as touch sensors for controlling KNX actuators, creating a wide range of possibilities for users! This simple step eliminates the need to purchase KNX sensors that are usually expensive and also the need to use KNX integrators to personalise the function keys. And that’s not all: the use of the IP telephone as a KNX control unit significantly increases the flexibility of these systems. For example, the end device can be operated at any time in another room, controlling a different circuit in the building without someone having to be present on site.
“The patented process means the Snom KNX gateway only needs to be integrated once into the KNX system and acts as independently as possible from the parameterisation in ETS (KNX configuration software). This means the user of the IP end device can determine themselves which button on the telephone should control which circuit at any time”, confirms Golpe Varela.
According to Golpe Varela, it was a no-brainer to use the brightness sensor of the Snom D735 as a sensor to control lighting in the workplace (by controlling a KNX dimming actuator) and the function keys to lower the blinds or open the window. By transmitting the temperature or air quality values to the telephone or directly installing the dedicated sensors on the terminal, the KNX heating, air conditioning and ventilation actuators can be controlled.
Snom has already presented the first examples of this integration live at Light + Building 2022 and these were also a key component of Snom’s presence at Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) 2023 in Barcelona.
Meanwhile, research into the building automation environment will continue. Among other things, a potential integration of Snom’s beacon and DECT technologies with business automation scenarios will be analysed.
“Basically, there are no limits to creativity and imagination when it comes to a smart building. Over the long term, sustainably constructed buildings will continue to be networked and digitised. The only limiting factor will always be the internal structure of the companies and their equipment. But almost everyone already has an IP telephone and therefore a potential control unit on their desk”, concludes Golpe Varela.