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Competition, product direction affect shifting IoT terrain

Posted: 02 Mar 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IoT? competing technologies? 6LoWPAN? Zigbee? Thread?

Anderson said the IPv6 argument doesn't hold water anymore. "You don't need to have entire IPv6 stack [on the node] to be interoperable....and "even ARM Cortex-M0 chips have enough storage, memory and horsepower to handle [the necessary parts of open-source 6LoWPAN]" stack, he added.

Chipmakers these days are shifting away from more low-end 8051-controllers because they are unprofitable, Anderson added. That will put pressure on Zigbee suppliers to create IPv6 pathways between their low-end devices and the cloud.

"If the goal of the Internet of Everything is to get data to cloud and control the home from sometimes remote smartphones and tablets, that requires Internet connectivity, so they need a translation layerand that exists," Anderson said.

IoT terrain

Green Peak's view of the IoT terrain gives Zigbee a central role.

The Zigbee IP spec, the Smart Energy 2.0 standard and translation software for home gateways, routers and set-top boxes are already in place. Links from Green Peak estimates up to 15 per cent of the chips they sell now support multiple software stacks including both Zigbee variants and 6LoWPAN.

Many shoes have yet to fall. The Thread group will give the first public look at details of its spec later this year. Apple may do the same with its HomeKit and HealthKit frameworks, which are expected to be tightly linked to its iOS devices. Until then, questions remain about how much value Thread adds to 6LoWPAN and how open Apple will be in letting others interoperate with its approach.

At the application layer, several high-level command languages aim to let programmers control the behaviour of end nodes. It remains to be seen how messages from AllSeen, for example, will control devices working under the Zigbee Cluster Library and vice versa.

Meanwhile, whole industry sectors are still weighing in on IoT. TV broadcasters are considering an update of their Avanced TV Systems Committee standards in the next 18 months or so to embrace IPv6. A move to packet-based IPTV standards would echo the shift telcos made from circuit-switched voice to packet-switched data networks.

The move comes the Consumer Electronics Association is developing ANSI 2048, a standard to bring IPv6 to any device in the home from TVs to refrigerators, said Anderson who is editor of the standard. "Broadcasters need to become compatible with the Internet or die," he said.

Meanwhile, Bluetooth and WiFi backers are working on mesh versions of their networks to match features already built into 6LoWPAN and Zigbee. So the landscape will shift a few more times before all the different IoT layers support connections to all the different kinds of IoT nodes.

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