[Sponsor] Open Source Automation the Secret to Smarter Buildings

Modern buildings have made use of linear actuators during the automation process. The demand for smarter buildings is increasing steadily hence people are coming up with innovations to take advantage of the new market. Whenever individuals come up with innovation, the first thing they are likely to do is to license it or even start a company with it. However, this may not always be a good idea for accelerating innovation. The solution is embracing open source platforms. Open source software allows for more innovation and lowers the cost of customization. It allows interoperability because the software applies for different hardware.

Building owners can use the open infrastructure to automate their buildings. Open source is vital in lowering the cost of automating buildings. The cost of developing the systems splits between the automation companies and the manufacturers of the hardware that uses the systems. Although not everything will be open source in the industry, the performance of the building industry will improve due to the interoperability that the systems present.

Some companies have acquired open source systems and made modifications then closed them. Closed systems have the limitation of locking building owners to the vendors and make it impossible to switch to another system in the case of incompatibility. The rate at which technology is changing will force building owners from closed systems to open source to allow for easy automation. Software updates in closed systems may be costly especially when they require new hardware. Acquiring new machines due to software update is unrealistic and can be avoided by changing to open systems which maintain compatibility. The long-term solution to the problem of closed software in the industry is the adoption of open source platforms that are entirely owned by the community and cannot be acquired by companies.

Currently, open source home automation systems are not able to handle commercial buildings. However, in the long term, the systems will become complicated and have lower costs. Open source is growing at a higher rate and has the potential to take over the industry. Companies whose model is based open standards and offer low-cost components will be advantaged when the systems are commercialized.


A building automation system is consists of different layers. The lowest level consists of sensors which take data such as the brightness and the temperature of the building. The data received goes to a server which records it. The server connects through a user interface where the owner can see the data. It is vital that all the parts in the automated buildings work together. The whole system is made up of different components, but they should work together naturally. The most important aspect is that the various layers should be interoperable so that there is no need to build bridges between them.


The primary challenge with most of the available systems in the market is that they present problems in integration. Hence, building automation has been hard to implement on a larger scale. Operators face technical difficulties because the different vendors lock their platforms such that they cannot be integrated with systems from other vendors. The problem can be solved by open source standards which will ensure interoperability of the different platforms and push the vendors to focus more on the features as opposed to the platform.

Conclusively, time has come that individuals in the building automation industry to support the ideas of open systems. They have the potential of helping in making buildings more efficient. Although the concept has not entirely developed, investing in open source automation will guarantee returns in the future with the increase in the demand for cheaper and comfortable smart buildings.