A new laboratory from Europe’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) is set to evaluate dozens of smart devices and how they can communicate with each other to make our lives easier.
Imagine a future home where thermostats and domestic home appliances are activated by mobile apps or vocal commands. All systems should be able to communicate with each other; they should be interoperable and that's far from simple.
Ioulia Papaioannou, an Electrical Engineer at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) said, "In the house of the future, we will have smart appliances. Smart appliances mean smart dishwashers, smart ovens and chargers for our electric cars. All these different devices will create data and will communicate with each other. And for this to happen, we will need one common language to deal with all this data, and also improve the different functions that all these machines can provide inside the smart home".
Improving smart devices
The JRC laboratory aims to provide the right tools to evaluate the interoperability of all these connected devices inside smart homes. The facilities have been designed to foster the adoption of a common testing methodology.
Antonios Marinopoulos, Electrical Engineer at Joint Research Centre (JRC) said, "By collecting the data from testing smart devices from different manufacturers, we will be able to create a database. And we can later use this database to find eventual problems in the standards, or any issue with the appliances´ performance. So we can eventually provide manufacturers with solutions and new ways to improve products".
Researchers here foresee a future where your house relies on an intelligent digital ecosystem. Where virtual power plants connect with sustainable energy systems. Where electric cars have intelligent batteries. Where citizens produce energy as well as consuming it.
Looking at energy storage
The testing lab has turned to some very particular energy storage facilities.
Catalin Felix Covrig, Electrical Smart Grid Interoperability Laboratory Manager. said, "We are in a large battery container. Around us, you see many boxes. Each of these boxes is able to power a house. Inside the box, you will find lithium-ion batteries. As you know, there are many different technologies. But in this context, we have the lithium-ion, which are a bit more responsive and a bit faster. This is the future".
Helping the consumer
Eventually, Europeans will also benefit from this research, as scientists hope their work will contribute to creating not only more innovative industry, but also an increasingly open market that can protect consumer´s rights.
Catalin Felix Covrig adds, "You should be able to go to any supermarket, buy a device and you should be sure that this device will work with what you have in your house. And you can only do this by relying on open standards, together with clear information from the manufacturer to the buyer".
Researchers at JRC say their work will also contribute to the implementation of EU policies aimed at the digitalisation of energy consumption.