What should you look for in a building automation system? First of all, one that works. So, being able to count on reliable technology is the most important aspect. Let’s find out which one with Claudio Crespi, Eelectron’s Technical Manager.

If I were the customer, I would demand system reliability, as well as security.

The kind of security, for example, that is guaranteed by technology based on Bluetooth Low Energy protocol. Bluetooth Low Energy is a brand new technology featuring intrinsic communication security.

This means that if someone were to listen to a conversation in Bluetooth Low Energy, they would be unable to decipher it unless they had a key to access the system, which would be highly unlikely given that these are systems which belong to the world of banking. Bluetooth Low Energy transmits encrypted messages which prevents what is commonly referred to as “sniffing”, i.e. copying. The security protocol is very high. OTOMO, the network designed to manage energy saving and office control via smartphones and mobile devices, is a system which works with this protocol.

“A wireless system has the same reliability as a wired system”.

What degree of reliability does Bluetooth Low Energy technology have in addition to security?

Very high because it allows networks to be built. It means that communication does not go from one device to another, for example, between telephone and headset, rather it is a technology which connects multiple devices and nodes. Any node can be put in communication with any other network node. It is a technology that works on different frequencies that are close but different, which don’t overlap and create interferences. The devices even have the possibility to choose the freest frequencies. So, not only is it a secure system in that a third party cannot “understand” what two devices that communicate in Bluetooth Low Energy are saying to each other, unless authorised, but it is also reliable because each node has the possibility to enter into communication with all other nodes on the network. If, for any reason, a node were to interrupt the communication, the nearest one to it would take its place.

It would be different if you had a centralised network that depends on just one device. The moment this device fails, the whole network will cease to function.

A Bluetooth Low Energy protocol network, on the other hand, does not require a device that has superior capabilities and coordination over the others.

In the collective imagination, a wireless system is perceived as less secure than a more traditional wired system.

Given that as Eelectron, we are specialists in both wired and wireless systems, we can safely say that a wireless system is no less reliable than a wired system. And there is no guarantee that a wired system is  less likely to malfunction than a wireless one.

Technology today makes it possible to manage “wireless” protocols with devices that make them as reliable as wired systems.

The most popular object in the world is the mobile phone; we surf the Internet with it and it allows us to be constantly connected. The common perception is that this technology is good even if this does not exclude a possible malfunction of the system.

No-one would go back to landline phones today because they do not trust wireless technology.

What are the features which make a system like OTOMO reliable?

The main feature is that OTOMO is based on a Bluetooth Low Energy protocol and, as stated, this technology is more reliable. It works like a mesh network, ensuring data repetition, for example. Therefore, it exploits the ability to propagate messages so that they can reach all points of a system. If one element of the network fails, a mesh network allows alternative message retransmission paths to be verified. Bluetooth Low Energy works at high frequency with a large-signal reflection capacity. If the walls are too thick and the high frequencies cannot pass through them, but the rooms are connected by doors, then the signal will pass through the doors. If I encounter an obstacle and want to get round it, a mesh-type technology allows me to triangulate the signal thanks to other devices which form the network and reach the destination device. Even if there is no perfect radio visibility between the emitting and receiving device.

How much does the fact that OTOMO can be managed from an app on a mobile device affect the perception that it is a reliable system?

Since it is managed by an app, I can immediately check the operating status of the system on my mobile phone. Simply put, if the icon on the mobile device changes, it means that the command was successful even if I do not physically see, for example, if the light has turned on or off in a room that is out of sight.

There is another aspect as well that it particularly important in this period of virus psychosis. It goes beyond the concept of system reliability and falls within the scope of personal safety. No touch has now become a prevention method to protect health. The fact that we are not forced to touch objects, such as switches and handles that have come into contact with who knows how many other people, but can manage everything from a personal device, psychologically increases the perception of safety and is actually safer too.