It appears as though now, more than ever, we are experiencing the need to ramp up efforts to establish standards for the internet of things (IoT). While coalitions have been working on creating protocols for a couple of years, predictions of how widespread IoT will be should send those groups into a flurry of activity.
Research firm Gartner forecasts that 4.9 billion connected devices will be in use globally by the end of 2015, up 30% from 2014, and will reach 25 billion by 2020. Jim Tully, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, said that a digital shift is forcing businesses to pursue IoT out of fear of obsolescence. Gartner estimates that “IoT will support total services spending of $69.5 billion in 2015 and $263 billion by 2020.”
But who is connecting all of these devices, and how? Interoperability is the main challenge with the internet of things (aside from telco’s concerns that there isn’t enough bandwidth to support the pending billions upon billions of devices). A few protocols have been created, but it’s a matter of technology companies and big players coming together to build them out, despite various companies wanting to be on top of the initiatives. Ideally, of course, one platform would sustain a grand network of internet-connected devices so that more devices could be compatible, but since when has the technology world ever been satisfied with just one way of doing things?
PC World reported in late October that multiple coalitions for the internet of things’ standards are gearing up for the Consumer Electronics Show next year, noting that both the AllSeen alliance and the the Open Interconnect Consortium will have certified products.
AllSeen is the group touting AllJoyn — Qualcomm’s peer-to-peer software framework designed to be an open-source protocol for a network of connected devices to accommodate both hardware and software makers. As long as the tech is based on AllJoyn, the devices will be able to communicate with one another. Tech giants including LG, Sharp, Panasonic, Cisco, HTC and others have joined.
The Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) created in 2014 by Intel, Broadcom, and Samsung, is working on creating a framework for IoT as well. Its open source project is dubbed IoTivity, and many prominent tech companies are on its side.
For now it seems as though AllSeen and OIC are the two contenders for internet of things network standards, and both are set to go head-to-head at CES pushing their approaches to connecting devices and individual devices’ softwares. Apple’s HomeKit system and Nest’s Weave platform are other potential players in the IoT connectivity realm.
And the numbers from Gartner aren’t the only reasons why standards for IoT need to move along. IoT could both threaten and benefit governments, which have been slowly looking at potential ramifications. Or, at least, they are being urged to look at them. The Center for Strategic and International Studies published a report on Tuesday describing how the U.S. government should look at IoT to elevate the efficiency and effectiveness of the U.S. military. It states:
The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the way organizations communicate, collaborate, and coordinate everyday business and industrial processes. While the Department of Defense (DoD) pioneered many of the core technologies that serve as the foundation of IoT, today the U.S. military is struggling to keep pace with commercial IoT development.
Until standards emerge that can unite the massive network of devices approaching both enterprise and consumer markets, it will remain a struggle.