With the ongoing development of the Internet of Things, there have been multiple attempts to develop common specifications for the industry. Since devices and services are of different sizes and requirements, providing their seamless interoperability is quite challenging.
Until last year, there had been two alliances that competed in creating IoT standards. Open Interconnect Consortium, led by Intel and Samsung, was focused around the product named IoTivity, which allows appliances communicate with each other. AllSeen Alliance, formed by Microsoft and Qualcomm, developed a similar product named AllJoyn.
The rivalry between two consortiums led to more confusion within the IoT industry, as each group worked on their own interoperability technologies and products that didn’t work with each other.
After a few years of competition, the organizations had joined hands to form the Open Connectivity Foundation that was announced last year. The group consists of more than 300 companies, including Cisco, Qualcomm, Intel, Microsoft, Electrolux, and General Electric.
Open Connectivity Foundation is focused on creating a set of standards and protocols for IoT sector to help companies develop wi-fi-enabled products. Its goal is to drive innovation within the industry providing benefits for customers around the globe.
The group is based mainly on IotTivity, an open source framework enabling connectivity to wireless devices. The services and apps based on the OCF framework should be able to seamlessly communicate with each other regardless of their manufacturer or operating system.
Open Connectivity Foundation will now focus on combining IoTivity and AllSeen technologies and providing connectivity among existing devices that used one or other product. Besides, it is planning to create the oneIoTa database of device definitions and profiles that will be available for manufacturers.
Gary Martz, product line director for IoT communications frameworks at Intel, believes the database will be quite useful for developers. Speaking to ARC during CES 2017, he said: “There is a lot of excitement in the industry around interoperability as a developer problem. This tool can help solve it. Everybody just goes to a common database for device definitions.”
“When people start looking for their device definitions, they don’t have to recreate something and add yet another definition. They can use what is there, they can modify what is there. They can re-contribute back what is there. That can help clean up some of that fragmentation,” he explained.
However, the sector still lacks consolidation and there are too many options available for consumers and developers. Last week, the ZigBee Alliance, which unifies over 400 companies, unveiled a universal language for IoT called Dotdot. Not long ago, Sigma Designs introduced the Z-Wave interoperability layer to enable developers build smart home IoT applications.
IBM’s Watson is one of the most popular IoT platforms. The company has recently partnered with BMW Group to develop more personalized driving experience using its IoT system. Last month, Google unveiled Developer Preview of Android Things, its new IoT platform.