Intel, Samsung and Dell have established the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC). The new consortium has pledged to develop and distribute specifications for the emerging Internet of Things. It is competing with the AllSeen Alliance, which was founded by Qualcomm.
The group, which also includes Atmel, Broadcom, and Wind River (owned by Intel), will focus on creating an open-source standard for wirelessly connecting devices to one another and to the Internet. Like other open-source projects, the member companies pledge to donate intellectual property, or IP, that all members and others can work on and use.
“We’d like to quickly get the key industry players to structure the standards properly” for devices to interoperate, said Imad N. Sousou, general manager of Intel’s open-source technology center. Products using the Open Interconnect standard will most likely come out in 2015, he said.
Intel’s Gary Martz said the OIC wil first establish standards around connectivity, discovery and authentication of devices, and data-gathering instruments in “smart homes,” consumer electronics and enterprises. OIC will certify devices compliant with its standards. The group will work on standards encompassing a range of wireless technologies including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee and NFC (near-field communication).
The reason for all this activity is sheer numbers, and potentially a lot of market power. The IoT is expected to eventually touch some 200 billion cars, appliances, machinery and devices globally, handling things like remote operation, monitoring and interaction among Internet-connected products.
So far, such connections are at best uneven, but workable uniform standards could help that get better.
It’s likely that the communications standards governing these things will also affect the means for collecting data about the behavior of both devices and the people that use them. That makes it a very important future subset of the Internet, since data like that will inform things like future product development and what ads individual consumers are shown.
Why didn’t the Interconnect group just go with AllSeen, which started earlier and is signing up product companies — even if the project was initiated by the Intel rival Qualcomm? “Intel and its partners evaluated all of the existing work,” Mr. Sousou said. “It’s not being done in a way that will drive widespread adoption.”
According to people in the consortium, who asked not to be named in order to sustain relations with AllSeen members, many of the other chip companies did not trust Qualcomm to fully part with its intellectual property.
There is also an ITU-T standardization effort for the IoTs which has been ongoing for several years. The Global Standards Initiative on Internet of Things (IoT-GSI) promotes a unified approach in ITU-T for development of technical standards (Recommendations) enabling the Internet of Things on a global scale. ITU-T Recommendations developed under the IoT-GSI by the various ITU-T Questions – in collaboration with other standards developing organizations (SDOs) – will enable worldwide service providers to offer the wide range of services expected by this technology. IoT-GSI also aims to act as an umbrella for IoT standards development worldwide. The IoT-GSI group will have its tenth meeting 12-18 November 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Caroline Gabriel of Rethink Wireless wrote:
The OIC is short on details of its approach so far, though it will publish its code later this quarter, but its announcements suggest it will be a rival to AllJoyn in using the weight of its big-name backers to establish a de facto standard. It says it will devise, and contribute to open source, a peer-to-peer protocol which handles device discovery and authentication. However, Intel says the key difference from AllJoyn is that the OIC code will be created collaboratively, rather than forming a supporters’ club around an existing technology from a single firm.
This will certainly not be the last body formed to help the big chip vendors – all of them in urgent need of a leadership role in at least some aspects of IoT standards – to position themselves as standards setters. As seen in other technology markets, the array of would-be standards will gradually consolidate as the real market makers – such as the large-scale consumer and industrial devices vendors – make their choices.
In this way, the OIC has scored one big point, by netting Samsung, although the Korean firm’s semiconductor division does not necessarily influence the alliances made by its consumer products activities. It will be positive to see some of those market makers taking some decisions, or risk the chip giants tearing IoT platforms into fragments with their politicking, before the segment has even gained scale.