Quality over quantity
From the digitized home to the new switch range: Gira is providing a comprehensive view of what is presently possible in terms of electrical installation and building systems technology at the current Light + Building in Frankfurt. Hans-Jörg Müller, Head of Product & Design at Gira, tells Anna Moldenhauer what exactly visitors can expect to witness at the fair and how the long-standing company wants to position itself in the future.
Where does Gira currently stand?
Our goal lies in progressing all of our business segments concurrently. From the traditional segment of mechanics and electronics, to design, to the topic of safety – we aim to interlink all functions to an ever greater extent and ensure a high level of operator convenience. It’s a process. One in which we already have our sights set on the Light + Building 2020. Our approach is highly systematic and the Light + Building 2018 is just one stage in our journey. It’s a great stage to be at, but we have by no means arrived at the end of our endeavors, and gotten to where we want to be.
Where exactly do you want to be?
Let me cite an example – in early 2000 we developed a door communication system that is now very successful. But it is a proprietary system. It does have gateways to other systems, but it would be better for it to be possible to integrate the door communication into further systems without requiring a gateway. Of course this is not something that can be achieved in two or three years, it’s a matter of long-term advances. We also now provide a special Gira Cloud for mobile door communications, which you can access remotely. Someone rings your doorbell and you are able to see the guest via your mobile phone, you can speak to them and if necessary open the door for them or not – from wherever you are.
Can we look forward to any surprises from Gira at the Light + Building?
We actually don’t really want surprises. Our goal is to develop all segments in expedient but also moderate ways. We will certainly be showcasing an evolution in the smart home segment that we have continuously refined with the intelligent media center. It can now be employed in areas such as eNet, as it will be radio controlled. It may further be connected to our door communications system, as well as being able to operate our new security system Alarm Connect. Two years ago, Gira G1 was more or less an operating medium for the KNX worlds. Today you can use the device to control all of the worlds we will be showing at the fair.
You say it is a “new operating system” – what exactly is new about it?
We have a “wireless alarm system” in our range. This is a few years old, and was very successful. Now we have developed a new system that provides more components. You can use it to monitor doors and windows; in fact, it includes motion detectors, internal and external cameras. In addition it can be linked to KNX and WLAN and can be operated from inside and outside of the home. The new system can even be controlled using a smartphone. This wasn’t possible with the old system, which was purely proprietary and could only be operated at the door itself. This means that now when the alarm goes off, you could theoretically use the new system to control all of the lights. Furthermore, the Gira Project Assistant combines all functions, so you don’t need three or four apps. In my opinion, the current app hype will soon subside. I don’t think people want to use four or five apps to control their home technology. We aim to systematically combine more and more of these areas, which will be a benefit both for the end consumer and for the installation technician.
How is Gira presenting itself at the Light + Building 2018?
We have developed an entirely new concept for our booth at the fair, which comprises three levels of information: The first information level is a classical product presentation. We also offer a lecture series for specialists at regular intervals during the fair. That’s new and we’re trying it out for the first time. Thirdly, we are presenting a smart home world with a range of different examples of use – the display covers almost two hundred square meters. And not only will our sales force colleagues be on location to advise customers at our stands, but so will designers, product managers, technicians. For us, the Light + Building is not just about sales and customers, half of the company is on their feet there. It goes without saying that we are also taking risks with the new concept. But I think a trade fair in particular is a place where you just have to explore new avenues in order to make progress.
Could you give us a few examples of which new Gira products will be showcased at the fair?
We have incorporated “black matt” as a theme right across System 55. And we are proud to have a new switch range called Gira Studio, which may be either flush or surface-mounted. The sockets for surface mounting can be plugged horizontally or vertically as desired. The cover this creates is somewhat inspired by those famous Bakelite switches of the 1930s. A beautiful exposed installation with round glass frames, but you can now also integrate three hundred functions from System 55 into it, including keys and KNX components, all firmly in line with the smart home concept. Then you’ve got Gira X1, which in essence is also a further stage in the development. This includes simpler installation, as well as the possibility of remote maintenance. That wasn’t possible before. We also incorporated the X1 into the Alexa and Sonos worlds, making it possible to operate these devices by voice control, too. What’s more, the Gira X1 can now be linked to our remote access device Gira S1. The latter is the basic module for encrypted data transfer and ensures data security.
The topic of the “Smart Home” is once again receiving a great deal of attention at the Light + Building. So how is Gira positioning itself with a view to the competition?
We see more sense in approaching our development effort strategically rather than presenting many short-lived functions and products by rolling them out as quickly as possible. We want to provide our customers with products that will still work 10 or 15 years from now. That’s why quantity and speed can’t be our yardstick. I am convinced that products which have been thought through incrementally will eventually come out tops – unlike things that have been cobbled together quickly, and which then prove not to be compatible with other systems. Of course developing products using such a systematic method takes longer. That said, I don’t feel we are lagging behind. We don’t need to be the very first to adopt every single function out there. Our aspiration is to provide a system that works well as a whole. Installation technicians appreciate our concept, and end customers will ultimately also be convinced by the advantages of our approach I feel.
Light + Building
Hall 11.1, Stand B16 / B32
Messe Frankfurt am Main
60327 Frankfurt am Main