In the beginning there was nothing but total darkness, and all that existed was X-10 and proprietary protocols. There was no standard way for control products to talk to each other or for manufacturers to create products that interoperate with products developed by other manufacturers. The EIA (Electronics Industry Association) looked down upon this and decided to create a protocol that would allow products in the home and workplace to communicate with each other. After several years they completed the CEBus standard, and when it was complete, they looked upon it and said “this is a good thing”. EIA then put CEBus in the care of the CEBus Industry Council (CIC) and set it free so that it could propagate.

Control4 Home Automation
CEBus began to spread across the earth and soon there were several manufacturers offering CEBus products. Dissention in the camps developed as manufacturers began to realize that, although they all spoke the same language, they were different, and they could not agree on how to build a society where there was peace amongst products, and a structure that would allow the various products produced by different manufacturers to interoperate. Recognizing that having a 2-way protocol with a common language wasn’t enough, several manufacturers went to the mountain top to seek direction. When they came down from the mountain, they were glowing with delight, and in their hands they held a set of rules and commandments (Home Plug & Play™) for all that loved CEBus to follow, so that products, regardless of their breed, color, or functionality, could co-exist with each other, but also ‘interoperate’. Again, CIC looked upon this and said “this is a good thing”.

From that point forward CEBus/Home Plug & Play products developed by manufacturers began to interoperate, increasing the functionality for home and commercial facility owners everywhere. By defining how products join a network, share resources, distribute and pollinate addresses, and more, Home Plug & Play, allowed products to be simple to use, while accomplishing a system that could integrate lighting, security, audio/video, HVAC, appliances, home products and more. Finally there was peace and prosperity in the CEBus powerline networks.

Years later, a new method of communicating and transporting data, called the Internet, developed. Manufacturers of control products everywhere became enchanted with the possibilities and the additional functionality that could be accomplished with an integrated control system where low data-rate products (like the ones produced by CEBus product manufacturers) could interoperate with high data-rate networks like Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) networks, as well as products like PCs, residential gateways, printers, cameras and more. Once again several companies, recognizing the need to evolve the CEBus standard and powerline technology to the next level, went to the mountain top to create the next generation of CEBus: Simple Control Protocol (SCP). These companies (Microsoft, GE, SMART and Domosys) are still there, working hard to complete the SCP protocol and UPnP models that will allow this reality to come to fruition, by year-end.

SCP has been designed not only to co-exist with CEBus, but also with other protocols on the powerline like X-10 and LonWorks. SCP is the best of CEBus with security encryption algorithms and automatic discovery added, along with UPnP models to offer a seamless interface to the Internet and UPnP networks. The SCP team plans on working with other organizations to make SCP an international standard.


CEBus/Home Plug & Play products are available for the home today. These products range from lighting load control and breaker control, to interface products that can be used to integrate audio/video, small appliances, telephone, intercom, large appliances, home products and security. Manufactures behind some of these released products are Cutler-Hammer, DSC, and GE-SMART, just to name a few. Other manufacturers are hard at work today developing CEBus products that will go into pilot projects in 2001, and some of those will be introduced shortly after that. Companies like Domosys Corporation are supplying CEBus chips and development tools to enable manufacturers to quickly develop or migrate their existing products to CEBus and later SCP.

SCP products will probably not be commercially available until sometime in late 2001. However, not to worry, a plan is in place to insure that the CEBus/Home Plug & Play products that you buy today will integrate and interoperate with the SCP products you may buy tomorrow. You can expect that SCP products will offer a whole new world of possibilities and features, allowing System Integrators to focus more on sales and profits, and less on ‘jerry-rigging’ products to offer the functionality that end users are demanding today. Simplicity, reliability, lower cost, and networkable products will be the byproducts of the SCP protocol and SCP-enabled chips.

Copyright: Herman Cardenas SMART LLC