A group of companies, including Intel and Samsung, has come together to form a non-profit corporation with the goal of defining the communications connectivity between the billions of devices that will make up the Internet of Things.
The full list of founding members of the Open Interconnect Consortium includes Atmel, Broadcom, Dell, Intel, Samsung and Intel software subsidiary Wind River Systems. However, the group appears to have been formed as a reaction against the AllSeen Alliance, announced by the Linux Foundation in December 2013, and which is working with Qualcomm to drive the same communications and interoperability developments.
The premier-level members of the AllSeen Alliance include Haier, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Sharp, Silicon Image and TP-Link and the group has already reached a membership of 50 including Cisco, which has been an early proponent of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Both organizations are espousing an open source, approach which allows members to expand the software base without heavy concerns over ownership and licensing. But in the case of AllSeen Alliance, the initial framework was based on the AllJoyn open source project originally developed by Qualcomm. It is noticeable that ARM which licenses IP to Qualcomm and Samsung, amongst others, has not publicly joined either camp.
The Linaro non-profit group that supports the ARM ecosystem has previously said it intended to branch out into providing non-differentiating software support for IoT.
Forming not joining a club
For its part the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) intends to deliver a specification an open source implementation and a certification program for wirelessly connecting devices. The group aims to be hardware and operating systems agnostic and is starting with the smart home and office environment, with automotive, healthcare, industrial and other use cases to follow.
OIC said in a FAQ on its website that it will utilize multiple existing and emerging communications standards, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Direct, Zigbee, Zwave, Ant+. One of the primary ways the OIC intends to achieve its goals is by the use of test bed activities, it said.
Nonetheless coming up with a comprehensive discovery, validation and communication scheme is going to be a difficult challenge because the range of use cases, payloads and resources is vast so that one approach will not fit all. In addition, resources and power availability are often dynamic. So it will be necessary that any communications scheme can scale up and down against multiple parameters while maintaining connectivity and coherence, sometimes even in the absence of an Internet connection.
The wide range of use cases, communications and power requirements is one of the things that has contributed to keeping the Internet of Things a fragmented market.
"Open source is about collaboration and about choice. The Open Interconnect Consortium is yet another proof point how open source helps to fuel innovation," said Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation, in statement issued by Intel. "We look forward to the OIC's contribution in fostering an open environment to support the billions of connected devices coming online."
That's the same Jim Zemlin who said back in December 2103 that: "The AllSeen Alliance represents an unprecedented opportunity to advance the Internet of Everything for both home and industry. We are very happy to host and help guide this work."
The FAQ on the OIC website group makes the observation: "Today there are multiple forums driving different approaches to solve the challenge of IoT connectivity and interoperability. Currently, we don’t see one single effort that addresses all the necessary requirements."
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