In the emerging Internet of Things (IoT), zillions of devices will be talking to each other. Several major companies -- including Samsung, Intel and Dell -- have just formed a consortium to help ensure each thing can understand what the others are saying. But that consortium's standards will face competition from at least two other organizations formed to ensure the same thing.
Called the Open Interconnect Consortium, the new organization is seeking to define connectivity requirements for billions of devices that are expected to be interconnected by 2020. The requirements are expected to cover a wide range of devices without regard for their form factor, operating system or service provider. Other corporate members include Atmel, Broadcom and Wild River, and companies are expected to contribute software and engineering resources.
The intended deliverables are a specification, an open-source implementation, and a certification program for wireless interconnection standards. The first target is a set of requirements for smart home and office solutions.
'Reliably Interconnect and Share'
As an example, the consortium said the specs would simplify the ability to remotely control and receive notifications from smart home appliances or enterprise prices to smartphones, tablets or PCs. Household energy systems could be remotely controlled using a single spec, and business uses might include device collaborations between employees and outside vendors during a meeting in a conference room.
Doug Fisher, Intel corporate vice president, said in a statement accompanying the announcement that the "ultimate success of the Internet of Things depends on the ability for devices and systems to securely and reliably interconnect and share information," which requires common frameworks and open standards.
"Our goal," he added, "in founding this new consortium is to solve the challenge of interoperable connectivity to the Internet of Things without tying the ecosystem to one company's solution."
But the effort to create one standard for the IoT is not unique to the Open Interconnect Consortium. At the end of last year, The Linux Foundation helped create the AllSeen Alliance, which has a similar set of goals.
The AllJoyn Project
Members of the alliance include LG, Microsoft, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Cisco and several dozen others. That organization's AllJoyn open-source project is intended to provide a software framework and set of services for "interoperability among connected products and software applications, across manufacturers, to create dynamic proximal networks," according to its Web site. The AllJoyn software has been developed by Qualcomm, providing at least one difference between the two organizations.
Additionally, Intel has been instrumental in the creation of yet another organization, called the Industrial Internet Consortium.
Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, said Qualcomm started to create an IoT software framework for its needs, and then decided it needed to make the framework a broader effort.
Kay told us he has "seen this same scenario unfold multiple times" in the U.S., where multiple standards fight it out in the marketplace. At the moment, Kay added, "it's basically just a muddle."
Instead of a government-offered standard as other countries often implement, he said, the U.S. is probably looking at a situation where "two or three of these standards will go into place." An industry organization could serve as a mediator, but, in a market that includes virtually every device, which organization would get that role?