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Race for IoT forerunner takes on different twist

Posted: 01 Feb 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Moor Insights and Strategy? IoT? AllSeen? AllJoyn? Google?

During the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES), application frameworks for the Internet of Things (IoT) competed on which is running in more systems. Analysts were at a deadlock, calling it nearly a draw and put forth a clincher to have the contenders come together to avoid further fragmentation.

The frameworks specify interfaces that abstract away details of underlying physical transports, making it easier for developers to write applications and access systems services. Among the more influential alternatives are Google's Weave protocol for its smart home OS Brillo and Apple's HomeKit, which allows Siri to control smart home devices along with the Intel-led Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) and the AllSeen Alliance originally created by Qualcomm as AllJoyn.

The winner will be the group that attracts the most support in consumer products, said Moor Insights and Strategy analysts Mike Krell and Patrick Moorhead. But that winner did not emerge at CES, raising fears consumer fragmentation could spill into industrial IoT markets.

"Ultimately, for the industry to grow to a large, mainstream market OIC and [AllSeen] need to either find a way to work together or the market will decide for them which one lives," the analysts wrote. "The industry is being done a disservice by having duplication of effort for very similar goals," they added.

IoT showcase in CES

At CES: OIC showcased Atmel sensors, energy harvesting sensors from EnOcean, a Samsung TV, oven, and fridge running its IoTivity reference code. It expects to have software test tools and "everything else" available in the next six months; AllSeen announced several AllJoyn certified products including a smart 802.11ac WLAN module, smart light bulb, an air humidifier and a security camera; Apple's iDevices team announced a handful of HomeKit items, including smart in-wall lighting options and sensors for temperature and moisture detection; and Samsung said its entire 2016 Smart TV line-up will be IoT ready and connected with its SmartThings platform. Samsung supports both OIC and AllJoyn.

"Currently, [AllSeen] seems to have a lead. I would like to predict that both OIC and [AllSeen] will continue down their own paths for a while, start agreeing on sub-issues and then ultimately merge efforts," Krell and Moorhead wrote. "No one is served by having two different groups with the same charter. Right now, I'm not sure I can see that result."

Mind the gaps

OIC and AllSeen representatives said consolidation and collaboration are necessary for IoT to take off with both developing bridges to communicate with devices on other frameworks. However both organisations are racing to get devices in market so their frameworks will become de facto standards.

"Our goal is to deliver as much inter-operability as we can in the short term with a path to some consolidation," said OIC Chair David McCall, a strategy and technology planner for Intel who works on IoT frameworks. "I don't think you get there by mandating [a standard], but if the OIC framework is adopted widely then it will get to a point where developers would like to start making their own plugins."

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