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Tuesday, 08 July 2014 15:28

Tech titans band together in new IOT alliance Featured


A number of tech heavyweights including Intel, Samsung, and Broadcom have joined forces as part of a new nonprofit group called the Open Interconnect Consortium, or OIC, in a bid to develop standards and certification for devices involved in the Internet of Things.

Later this year OIC will deliver the first of many specifications for easy communication between devices, regardless of operating system, device type or wireless communication technology.

The consortium, announced today, will first establish standards around connectivity, discovery and authentication of devices, and data-gathering instruments in “smart homes,” consumer electronics and enterprises, said Gary Martz, product line manager at Intel.

OIC will later target vertical sectors like automotive and health care, where devices and communication technologies are different.

The Internet of Things, dubbed IoT for short, is the hot topic of tech right now and involves a future where devices and everyday objects, such as Melbourne's LIFX light bulb, are connected to the Internet and each other through a handful of methods such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Roughly 212 billion devices will be connected by 2020, highlighting the need for standards in IoT, said Doug Fisher, vice president and general manager of the Software and Services Group at Intel.

"If you don't align around some standards, it will actually slow the adoption and delay industries to participate and take advantage around these kinds of capabilities," Fisher said.

"It's a fundamental problem that needs to be solved to have all these devices talking to each other," Vijay Nagarajan, Broadcom's director of product marketing, said about OIC's creation.

In addition to Intel, Broadcom, and Samsung, OIC's membership includes Atmel, Dell and Wind River Systems, with more members expected to be announced in the coming months.

There's just one problem - OIC isn’t the first IoT standards group.

Earlier this month Microsoft joined the AllSeen Alliance, a group established last December heavily involving Intel rival Qualcomm. AllSeen and OIC share basically the same goal - a common software framework for discovery and connectivity between devices.

The news today means both Intel and Qualcomm are in a race to set the communication standards for the Internet of Things, and it could set the stage for another VHS vs Betamax battle between technologies.

“We’ve looked at what’s out there today,” said Doug Fisher, clearly referncing the AllSeen Alliance. “Certainly if those met the needs of us and others we would have participated there. Based on what we understand, that’s not the right approach. We’re going to continue down this path.”

Qualcomm, which has been working on its open-source standard for four years, said it hasn’t heard from Intel and would be happy to discuss working together to incorporate its efforts.

“I’m a little puzzled,” said Rob Chandhok, senior vice president at Qualcomm and president of the company’s interactive platforms division..

“I don’t understand how we couldn’t have solved this within the existing alliance and framework rather than saying we have a completely different approach and fragment the market, because I don’t think that will be best for consumer and businesses.”

The New York Times reported that members of the newly-formed OIC consortium, who asked not to be named in order to sustain relations with AllSeen members, said many of the other chip companies: did not trust Qualcomm to fully part with its intellectual property."

A Qualcomm subsidiary, called Qualcomm Connected Experiences, is the actual member of AllSeen, and a few months back donated to the group what will be the likely basis of its standard, a software kit for connecting devices called AllJoyn. The Times reported people at the other chip companies said they "weren’t comfortable" with that arrangement.

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