Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Tapping M2M: The Internet of Things

Slowly but surely, standards on the way for Internet of Things

The great thing about standards is there are so many to choose from. Multiple efforts are now underway for IoT.

It looks like a battle is shaping up between the telecoms and the tech companies as to what kinds of standards to apply to the emerging Internet of Things.

As observed in a report by Daniel Thomas in The Financial Times, "an intense battle is developing between technology and telecoms groups" for market domination of the Internet of Things. Companies from across the spectrum, including Vodafone, Google and Arm, are vying for leading roles in the IoT market, which Gartner says will be worth $300 billion in the next six years. 

So, with all these vendors jumping into what looks like a lucrative space, will standards evolve to make it all work? Or will we finally get everyone on the same page, as we did with the Internet of Words and Pictures?

There are some major efforts underway. Network World's Colin Neagle recently provided a nice synopsis of some of the leading IoT standards and protocols and standards bodies now in formation:

AllJoyn: AllJoyn is an open source project intended to enable compatible smart devices to "recognize each other and share resources and information across brands, networks, and operating systems," according to AllJoyn's website. The project, initially developed by Qualcomm Innovation Center is now a collaborative open source project of the AllSeen Alliance. The alliance includes Cisco, Microsoft, LG, and HTC. As Neagle adds, the AllJoyn protocol would enable "manufacturers to create their own custom apps for onboarding devices onto a Wi-Fi network, complete with control and notification services."

Google's "The Physical Web": The goal of The Physical Web, which is still an experimental effort, is to enable people to "walk up to any smart device — a vending machine, a poster, a toy, a bus stop, a rental car — and not have to download an app first. Everything should be just a tap away."

Industrial Internet Consortium: The purpose of the recently formed Industrial Internet Consortium "is to accelerate the development and availability of intelligent industrial automation for the public good." The IIC was founded by Intel, Cisco, AT&T, GE, and IBM. Microsoft is also a member. (An additional plus for the IIC: Dr. Richard Soley is executive director.)

Open Interconnect Consortium:  The Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), announced by Intel and joined by Atmel, Dell, Broadcom, Samsung, and Wind River, focuses on "defining a common communications framework based on industry standard technologies to wirelessly connect and intelligently manage the flow of information among personal computing and emerging IoT devices, regardless of form factor, operating system or service provider." 

Thread: Thread, a new IP-based wireless networking protocol, is a collaborative effort between Google’s Nest, and Samsung Electronics, ARM Holdings, Freescale Semiconductor, Silicon Labs, Big Ass Fans, and Yale Locks & Hardware.

The work of consortia and standards bodies is one thing, getting everyone across key industries to join in is another. Gail Dutton also recently reviewed the question of IoT standards in Tech Page One, quoting David Jacoby of Kaspersky Lab, who said that "although the standards for secure application development are lacking, the real problem is that people aren’t adopting them."

There’s "a land-grab in standards development, with multiple groups each hoping to set de facto standards." According to Lee Odess, general manager at Brivo Labs, also quoted in Tech Page One: "With so much interest, it’s clear that multiple standards will be developed to govern myriad aspects of the burgeoning IoT."

(Thumbnail photo: Joe McKendrick.)

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