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Web-enabled area controller

April 22, 2009
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American Auto-Matrix (AAM) introduced its open web-enabled area controller for the building automation market, the AspectFT product family. AspectFT (Facilitating Technology) is the control engine that comes in multiple forms for various sized projects. It can be found on the Matrix Area controller which functions as a small building stand-alone solution as well as the localized area controller for any size project. AspectFT can also be found in the AspectFT-Facility™ form. This is a version that comes on its own server, provided by AAM. It is intended to communicate with multiple Matrix Area controllers and is designed for medium sized projects. Lastly, AspectFT comes in the Enterprise™ version which is for the large scale building applications that utilize other forms of non-AAM server hardware; e.g., blade servers or server farms. The Enterprise version is available in two variants: a version that requires a hardware qualification by AAM, or a version designed to run in a Virtual Machine environment.

Utilizing a Linux® operating system, AspectFT uses a Java™ foundation to accomplish a number of building operation routines and control algorithms. Through utilization of this Facilitating Technology users can communicate to their BAS system through protocols such as BACnet® IP and MS/TP, Modbus® IP and RTU, and the American Auto-Matrix PUP protocol.

AspectFT has the ability to integrate to other systems using an open MySQL approach. This is a read/write driver that allows the BAS system to make decisions based on data written by a separate system (i.e. access control, etc…) to a MySQL database.

End-users can use one of over 45 programs that utilize the iCalendar protocol as a scheduling tool. This means using programs like Outlook® 2007, Google™ Calendar, or Apple’s iCal® to change schedules in a building should the user desire. This gives users the ability to use programs they are already familiar with to interface to their building, and eliminates the need for proprietary programs to accomplish a scheduling task.

The product also has available canned components that installers can use right out of the box. In addition, web services data such as weather reporting can be utilized to help predict energy load. Finally, AspectFT is a true Java foundation, meaning there is no need to attend special classes provided by the manufacturer to learn how to program custom functionality.

Engineering of the area controller is accomplished through Aspect Studio, a graphical, block based, visual programming environment that allows for the creation of a project on a Windows®-based PC. The software also includes a simulation environment where projects can be tested before being deployed to the device, thereby minimizing startup or runtime issues that could occur in the field.

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