The big shots of IoT interoperability

August 06, 2015

The big shots of IoT interoperability

All of the trouble surrounding the adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) is sourced in interoperability. There are numerous platforms and protocols...

All of the trouble surrounding the adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) is sourced in interoperability. There are numerous platforms and protocols aiming to make their own stamp on the new technological developments available through connected devices. At this point, confusion about the differences between these players is rampant, as the heavy hitters have yet to make their big moves in the industry.

AllJoyn is one of the oldest standards protocols in the market. AllJoyn was first created by Qualcomm to promote interoperability. Qualcomm’s goal with AllJoyn was to ease communication for developers without having to get deep into that networking layer of IoT so that they could focus on applications. Later, AllJoyn was signed over to the Linux Foundation to make it open source and the AllSeen Alliance was dedicated to driving the adoption of the AllJoyn protocol for interoperability between devices. The key benefits to AllJoyn are that it does not require Internet to work and that it is open source. Despite being open source, Qualcomm is still heavily involved with the protocol and while AllJoyn has been in the market for a long time, it is not seeing widespread adoption in the market quite yet.

The OIC, like AllJoyn, is open source. There is a lot of collaboration between members working on various devices. In some ways, this collaboration provides some great solutions, but it also leads to too many cooks in the IoT kitchen. The OIC is still in the early stages of development as the framework was just released in January. We are not seeing devices on the market yet but the OIC looks promising. This is a wait-and-see standard.

HomeKit is Apple’s answer to application framework for interoperability for IoT. It is a common network protocol, which includes end-to-end encryption. They simplify the set up and pairing process and it is an overall great start to interoperability. HomeKit products have just begun to hit the market with more on the way. Apple is really driving the ship when it comes to this standard, which may seem limiting to some but it also allows HomeKit manufacturers to move their products much quicker to market because there is only one set of rules and standards to follow. Obviously this standard is great for iOS but it leaves out Android, Windows, and other operating systems (a move not unprecedented considering the element of competition). It will be interesting to see more later this year when products begin to hit the market.

Google’s first foray into interoperability was through their “Works with Nest” program, an API surrounding the Nest learning thermostat that Google acquired last year. This was to make Nest the center of home automation with no connectivity between edge devices. Brillo & Weave are their latest solutions to the problem of interoperability. The Brillo side is a bare-bones version of the Android OS designed for integration with the embedded hardware of connected products. This platform is low power and energy efficient. Weave, on the other hand, is the language that the devices “speak” in order to communicate with one another. Weave is a huge concept, and a much larger project than its Brillo/HomeKit counterparts. However, it will remain to be seen whether this language will be open, accessible and adopted by the industry.

Adam Justice is general manager of the ConnectSense line of wireless sensors from Grid Connect.

Adam Justice, Grid Connect