CEDIA 2015: KNX to Push Dominant European Home Automation Standard in the U.S. – CEPro

KNX, the de facto home automation standard in Europe, is coming to the U.S. in a big way, with support from Siemens and a new California-based KNX training institution called DMC Technology.

Earlier this year, KNX USA was formed, and the group made its U.S. tradeshow debut at Lightfair 2015 in May. Now the standards body will formally introduce itself to the home systems integration community in October at CEDIA Expo 2015.

“The U.S. is ready. KNX is going to explode,” says Frederic Chaussy, COO of DMC, the Beverly Hills-based company that runs KNX training for the U.S. and also serves as headquarters for KNX USA.

If there was ever a worldwide standard for home automation it would be KNX, the European-centric protocol that powers more than 7,000 products from 350 manufacturers.

The KNX Association was founded in 1999 by three established building-automation groups (EIBA, EHSA, BatiBUS), and the technology itself is deemed a standard by ISO/IEC, CENELEC, ANSI and other international standards bodies.

And in the case of KNX, standard actually means standard. Scores of controllers, keypads, sensors, switches and connected devices such as thermostats and motorized shades are regularly mixed and matched within a single control environment, regardless of manufacturer(s) – an interoperability reality that so far has eluded U.S. “standards” efforts.

Yet KNX has barely touched the U.S.

“U.S. is really the only market left for KNX to penetrate,” Chaussy says.

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He concedes that KNX might have squandered earlier opportunities to bring the standard to the U.S. when promoters pushed it before it was fully baked. Meanwhile, Z-Wave and ZigBee established roots in the U.S., leaving little room for newcomers, even those of the (mostly) wired variety like KNX.

KNX backers swear the U.S. is now ready for KNX … and vice versa.

“We were very early pioneers of home automation and we learned from early mistakes,” Chaussy says, adding that today the KNX protocol is “solid, reliable and better” than the alternatives.

KNX USA So Far

Today, KNX in the U.S. is driven largely by Siemens, one of the few building-controls manufacturers that deploys KNX-compliant systems in the country. In fact, the current president of KNX-USA is David Thurow, senior product manager, lighting controls at Siemens Building Technologies USA, based in Buffalo Grove, Ill.

Siemens has been the rare organization to offer KNX training in the U.S., mostly for its own employees. That was the opening DMC needed to set up shop in the U.S. The organization was co-founded by Frenchman Marc-Antoine Micaelli, who is such a giant in KNX worldwide that he was able to acquire an O-1 Visa for “individuals with extraordinary ability.”

RELATED: Will KNX Home Automation Standard Make it in the U.S.?

DMC quickly established the first and only certified KNX training center in the U.S. with Siemens as its first client. The plan was to train manufacturers and integrators outside of Siemens as well, but only a handful of outsiders have taken the training so far.

In the custom installation industry, CEDIA offered a KNX-related Webinar in April of this year, and a KNX course will be offered at CEDIA Expo in October (Wed., Oct. 14, 1:00 – 2:30).

That’s just the beginning. Now that DMC and KNX USA are firmly established in the States, both groups expect to spend money to market the technology, according to Chaussy.

KNX USA so far has about 20 members, mostly European-based manufacturers of KNX devices.

They are:
Wago
Sierra Monitor Corp.
Steinel
Somfy
– Siedle
– CABA
BEG
Domovolt
– Stargate AV
DMC Technology
Legrand
Philips
– Hubbell Lighting
Bhome
EnOcean Allliance
TUV Rheinland
– PLC
Siemens
Jung

The Euro-centric roster belies the involvement of major U.S. manufacturers of home control systems, most of which offer a KNX gateway for the EMEA market, but none of which has pushed KNX for the U.S. market.

The only dedicated KNX manufacturer that appears eager to promote KNX in the in the U.S. market right now is the Israeli company BHome, which offers a Raspberry Pi-based solution for KNX (as well as Z-Wave and ZigBee).

Founded in Israel in 2014, the company has an office in New Jersey “where we have a joint venture with Siemens and additional companies, trying to penetrate the US smart home market with the wired KNX standard,” according to a Linkedin description.

At Lightfair this year, BHome joined Siemens, DMC and Somfy at the KNX booth. Somfy’s Ty Saville is vice president of KNX USA.

At CEDIA Expo 2015, don’t expect to see the big European KNX manufacturers like Jung and Gira, but attendees can find KNX technology (and European styling) at the Elko booth, where a full range of iNELS home-automation devices will be on display.

In addition, Basalte and Vitrea will showcase elegant touchpads that include KNX control options. Basalte also offers native KNX controls for its Asano multiroom audio system, joining other manufacturers that are just now implementing KNX for A/V control.

And of course the KNX Association will be at CEDA Expo, promoting the technology as a standard for the U.S.

“There’s no doubt in our mind it’s going to happen this time around,” Chaussy says.

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KNX USA officers (at Lightfair 2015), from left: Heinz Lux (KNX Association); Marc Antoine Micaelli (DMC Technology), secretary; David Thurow (Siemens), president; Ty Saville (Somfy), VP
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JULIE JACOBSON
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