One of the biggest challenges of realizing the Internet of Things (IoT) isn't connecting things to the internet but getting them to talk to each other.
The answer: form industry alliance to work on that.
The Linux Foundation has gathered over 20 technology companies, including Haier, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Qualcomm and Sharp, to form the AllSeen Alliance, which aims to take an open-source approach to “thing” interoperability.
The goal: develop a common, open framework based on the AllJoyn open source project – originally developed by Qualcomm Innovation Center – that addresses basic requirements like discovery, pairing, message routing and security.
According to a blog post from AllSeen Alliance TSC Chair Greg Burns:
The initial set of capabilities include: service discovery (learning about the features, functions of other nearby devices); onboarding to add a device to the user’s network; user notifications; a common control panel for creating rich user experiences; and audio streaming for simultaneous playback on multiple speakers.
In addition, the AllSeen Alliance will produce developer tools and verify correct implementation through a compliance program. Workgroups at launch include: Multimedia, Compliance, Basic Services, Core and Developer Tools.
Rob Chandhok, president of Qualcomm Connected Experiences, says that the basic idea is to do for the IoT what HTTP and HTML did for the web – give everyone an open way to build things for it.
“No single company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the Internet of Everything,” Chandhok told yr reporter by email. “A united, pan-industry effort is needed to foster a dynamic ecosystem and deliver new experiences to consumers and businesses.”
One thing working in AllSeen’s favor is that AllJoyn is platform-agnostic – it doesn’t just run on Linux, but also Android, iOS and Windows. It’s also the broadest industry effort to date to attempt to address the IoT’s interoperability issues.
On the other hand, with just 23 companies onboard to start, it needs more heavy hitters in the consumer electronics space. Still, you have to start somewhere.
Meanwhile, here’s the kind of scenario AllSeen has in mind for the IoT (from the press release):
As an example of the greater intelligence and interoperability made possible with the framework as the common language among the devices and services, a family that installs a smart lock built with the framework for their front door will seamlessly be able to connect it to smart lights that also use the framework and security cameras from other manufacturers. Unauthorized entries can trigger the lights to flash and the camera to take a photo of the intruder and send a notification and picture to the smart TV. At the other end of the spectrum, factory floors – evolving environments with systems that need to adjust dynamically – can benefit from the framework’s ability to enable a self-aware network that can constantly learn what new equipment has been added and what capabilities or interfaces that equipment has so that it can immediately begin playing its part in the manufacturing process.