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Barkhausen Institut

Smart Home Testbed Platform


1.IoT devices for SmartHomes gain a lot of attention in recent years. From smart speakers from amazon and google to smart windows, fridges, lights, etc. They use their own communication technology (Wifi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, ...) and their own protocols to integrate in your smart home.

2.There are many open questions in that regard. Security, privacy, resourcefulness, lifecycle management, etc. Two Questions we focused on were

  1. What wireless communication technologies are currently available and what are their benefits, shortcomings and limitations?
  2. Is it possible to integrate products from multiple vendors using different communiation technologies into ONE network/SmartHome system? And how?

Available Technologies

When deciding on a certain brand from an IoT vendor, they usually settled on using one or two different communication technologies. We focused on the wireless transmission, as there are solutions with many different characteristics. This is usually power consumption, robustness against interference, achievable data rate, latency, network scaling and others. Since each application has its own communication requirement and the environments may differ, no technology fits them all. For that reason we researched about available techs, their properties as well as where and how there are embedded in various products.

Within a Smart Home a multitude of IoT sensors and actors such as presence detectors, door opening sensors, lighting and thermostats interact jointly and wireless using diverse wireless protocols. An intelligent control allows automation to several processes within the household. As an example to save energy, dishwasher and washing machine can be programmed such that they only run if enough electricity is produced by an on-site solar panel. However, with such vast automation, great concern for security vulnerabilities can arise, where mitigations need to be researched and tested.

At the Barkhausen Institute we developed a demonstrator that shows basic possibilities of home automation. In particular, we dedicated a hallway to house different commercial devices such as presence detectors, colored lights, audio devices and RFID readers. These items are integrated into several processes, such that only authorized users can receive sweets from a sweets dispenser. Despite this illustrative aspect of the setup, the installation will serve as a context for further demos in the area of IoT and can enable demonstrations and research on security and privacy concepts.


Before we setup the system in reality, we had prepared a 3D rendering of the envisioned setup. This way, we could already imagine its appearance and envision possible use cases and demonstrations. 


Within the current setup, a multitude of devices and mobile standards are interconnected, as is shown in this block diagram.