Intereview with Kai Kreuzer

Developer Evangelist at DTAG Kai Kreuzer will bring the spirit of IoT to the JPrime Conference in Sofia, Bulgaria. We are delighted to make a short interview with him.

Hi, Kai! Can you please introduce yourself?
I am a Developer Evangelist working for Deutsche Telekom on the QIVICON smart home platform. I have been a fan of Open Source software for a long time and when starting in the field of home automation 7 years ago, I decided to directly open source my newly created hobby project openHAB. Since then it was a fascinating journey with a rapidly growing community and the creation of the Eclipse SmartHome project, which has become the foundation of professional smart home solutions as well as of openHAB 2.0.

So you work at Deutsche Telekom and are the lead of the OpenHAB and Eclipse Smarthome projects. What do you think be the role of Java in the future of smart homes?
Java is facing a difficult situation on end devices that are usually highly constrained in terms of CPU and battery power. JavaME is trying to address this, but it is a challenge to compete against C and other natively compiled languages here. For more powerful devices such as TV sets or home gateways and routers, the costs for powerful CPUs are rapidly decreasing, which makes Java a good option. Its natural strength is its easy portability through abstracting the underlying hardware. Java is mainly suitable for higher level functionality like serving as an integration point, hosting and running applications etc. and not so much for low level connectivity on transport the layer.

What is the adoption and the current state of progress of OpenHAB? What about Eclipse SmartHome?
As for any open source project that does not require any registration or „calls home“ it is difficult to know details about its adoption. As a rough figure, there are at least many ten thousands of users and I am often told that it is one of the most popular open source home automation solutions out there. I also see it being heavily used at universities for research and education, which is cool. Eclipse SmartHome - being the underlying framework for building smart home solutions - has naturally a much smaller target audience, but also here I see increasing interest from companies that are building commercial offerings.

How do you think will home automation impact the lives of people on the planet in the upcoming months/years?
I have honestly no idea. Despite the fact that home automation is around since more than two decades, we are still in a very early market phase with a lot of activity and frequent changes. The great thing is that anything is possible and therefore predictions will most certainly fail. Due to the fragmented market landscape I believe that it will nonetheless still take a while before we see any bigger effects on the way most people are living. My hope is that it will really serve the people and not only the companies - data privacy is a big issue in this respect and a strong focus of all my work.

Home automation is also your personal hobby - can you tell us how do you apply it in real life?
Well, openHAB was born out of my personal needs. I am using it for many different aspects, for comfort, security and energy saving alike. „Remote controlling“ is probably the least important feature, the possibility to integrate different devices in different personal use cases is what brings most value for the daily life. These can be so simple things as the shutter not automatically closing at dusk, if the terrace door is open (and hence likely someone is still outside). Notifications are also an important piece of the puzzle, e.g. to be reminded that windows are left open when leaving the house or to have callers being announced in the house through text-to-speech.

Thank you very much! And see you soon in Sofia!