The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is all the buzz in the tech world. From Google acquiring Nest and Apple announcing the HomeKit, these connected devices are being introduced to make life as we know it easier.
There’s one thing that’s not-so-easy though: standards.
As the Internet of Things and its standards become more of a hot topic, tech companies are flocking to both join and create their own IoT standards groups, organizations, and consortiums.
There’s a necessity to work together regarding IoT standards and rallying behind one set of standards will significantly push the IoT space forward.
Here’s a quick overview of some of the big players among current IoT standards groups.
Internet Protocol for Smart Objects (IPSO) Alliance
The IPSO Alliance is a global, non-profit forum seeking to establish the Internet Protocol as the network for the connection of smart objects in energy, consumer, healthcare, and industrial applications.
The IPSO Alliance was one of the first standards groups to hit the IoT industry and continues to complement the work of other entities, such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The IPSO Alliance is no quiet group though. They provide webinars and white papers, and can be found sponsoring many different IoT-related events. In addition, the IPSO Alliance began their own competition in 2013 called the “IPSO Challenge.” This challenge is used to showcase the use of Internet Protocol in applications enabling the IoT. The winner receives a cash prize as well as some other bonuses and publicity.
Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC)
The IIC is a newly formed, non-profit consortium looking to make big data more accessible through the development, adoption, and widespread use of interconnected machines and the people who use them.
The IIC feels technologies ranging from simple, everyday objects to high-powered, industrial machines could be made better by making them smart and connected to the rest of the world. In order for these smart things to work together, the IIC is working to identify requirements for open interoperability standards and to define common architectures to connect smart devices, its data and people. The IIC is managed by the Object Management Group, another non-profit group dedicated to computer industry standards.
The AllSeen Alliance is a non-profit group dedicated to supporting the Internet of Everything (IoE) through enabling and driving the adoption and innovation of its products, systems, and services in homes and across multiple industries.
The AllSeen Alliance is the 11th Linux Foundation Collaborative Project and its framework is based on the AllJoyn open source project. The AllSeen Alliance recognizes that no one company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the IoE and therefore depends on its members to contribute software and engineering resources as part of their collaboration to advance its development.
The Thread Group is a marketing education group that offers product certification to ensure security and interoperability of products around the home.
Although the Thread Group says they are not just another standards body, they have identified the necessity for a low-power, mesh network in addition to Wi-Fi to be used for connecting the objects in a home. The Thread Group has now started to work on a new, wireless mesh protocol to provide a solution to this need.
The Thread Group is open to all companies, however it will not start accepting applications until later in 2014. Starting in the first half of 2015, these members will be able to participate in a product certification program that follows their IoT networking protocol.
Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC)
The OIC is a consortium, announced only a week before Thread, focused on creating a standard specification and an open source project to address the push for interoperability of IoT devices.
The OIC wants to connect the next 25 billion smart devices that are expected to emerge by 2020 by defining a full and standard communications framework to enable all applications over a broad range of vertical markets. As with the other standards groups mentioned, the OIC believe that interoperability between objects is necessary and a standard, open source implementation is the best way to do this.
As of now, the OIC does not seem to be making as big of a splash into the IoT standards wars, but there is room for them to grow in the future. The OIC encourages other companies with their same goals in mind to join; however, they are not accepting applications yet and it is unknown when they will.
Adam Justice is vice president and general manager of Grid Connect, a manufacturer and distributor of the ConnectSense product line of wireless sensors.