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The Internet of Things: More Clawing For Standardization Dominance
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The Internet of Things: More Clawing For Standardization Dominance - Executive Leadership Articles

The Internet of Things: More Clawing For Standardization Dominance

Executive Leadership Articles

The Internet of Things: More Clawing For Standardization Dominance

Talk to almost any tech-head who was around in the early Eighties, and he or she will tell you that the Betamax format for home video recording was the superior technology. As you surely remember, Beta was the loser in that battle for standardization, despite a brief period where you could purchase content formatted for both VHS and Beta. Ultimately, two standards were more than the market was willing to deal with, and VHS became the assumed format for home recording, packaged content, and consumer-level camcorder production. Similarly, a standardization showdown for control of the Internet of Things is taking shape, with farther-reaching stakes than just your ability to watch the latest Johnny Depp movie in the comfort of your living room: with the IoT and a standard protocol, you might also be dealing with preset mood lighting for family movie nights, temperature controls for your living room, do-not-disturb settings for your phones and doorbells, and the preparation of snacks so that your experience with Johnny is exactly the way you want it, with minimal effort.

If all these devices are going to communicate with each other, you need confidence that a smart lightbulb, a smart set of drapes, and a smart thermostat will work with the devices you already own, on the network you’ve already set up. Manufacturers need the ability to respond to consumers’ needs for practical use, and to manage updates in system security.

Leading the charge (so far) is an open source system called AllJoyn, championed by the AllSeen Alliance, which promotes the interoperability of devices, with labs for testing and certifying products so that consumers need only to check the label on a device to see if it will work with their AllJoyn home systems. Manufacturers such as LG, Sharp, Sears, Panasonic, Sony, and Microsoft have signed on with AllJoyn.

IoTivity is a similarly-intentioned system sponsored by the Open Interconnect Consortium, with manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics and Intel developing testing standards and a certification program.

In the closed-source realm, manufacturers with existing markets are developing their own specifications with gateways for third-party development. Apple’s iOS 8, released in the fall of 2014, already comes with a database called HomeKit, which enables the control of devices from tablets and phones. Just as a third-party app such as Moves makes use of iOS’s resident HealthKit service for counting steps and tracking histories, HomeKit can be tapped into by third-party developers to control (and work with) multiple devices, certified according to Apple’s famously exacting standards. While this approach, as with its App Store, means there are fewer options for its users, many consumers prefer the everything-through-one-channel shopping approach, with Apple as their watchdog and gatekeeper.

Another example of an existing product line that grows with third-party development is Nest. When the Nest system was introduced in consumer electronics stores a few years ago, it was strictly a smart thermostat, but it soon added security cameras and smoke-carbon-monoxide detectors to carve out an early space in smart home security and safety. It has since been acquired by Google, and with its Weave protocol, allows for third-party inclusion in homes equipped with Nest systems. Manufacturers such as Philips, Whirlpool, Mercedes-Benz, LG, and Pebble already have devices that work with Nest.

As interconnected smart technologies are still in their infancy, there’s no telling which of the current players, if any of them, will emerge as the dominant standard, or if some kind of bridge between standards will be developed, as it once was for file-sharing across network and hardware platforms. Will it come down to who has the best devices, or will a multiplicity of functionality within one standard win consumers’ hearts? Will the territory be won by clever marketing, or by the influence of early adopters? For the next few years, it could be an interesting show, so program your smart microwave ovens to get the popcorn ready.

 

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The Internet of Things: More Clawing For Standardization Dominance - Executive Leadership Articles

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