IoTivity Preps For IoT Standards Showdown - InformationWeek

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IoTivity Preps For IoT Standards Showdown

Open-source IoTivity framework is built to ensure interoperability among devices and services across the Internet of Things. But it's got competitors. Who will win?

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Without a seamless way for billions of devices to swap information, the Internet of Things may prove to be more Tower of Babel than the data-sharing utopia we’ve been led to believe. Various tech industry groups are working to build this much-needed framework for device-to-device connectivity across the IoT, yet no standard has emerged.

One contender is IoTivity, an open-source collaboration between the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), a group of 50-plus tech organizations led by Intel and Samsung, and the nonprofit Linux Foundation.

The OIC last week announced the preview release of the IoTivity code.

"We’d love to have people come and look at the code, provide feedback, and contribute. The doors are open and we’re ready for a lot of participation," said Mark Skarpness, director of embedded software at Intel’s Open Source Technology Center and chair of the IoTivity Steering Group, in a phone interview with InformationWeek.

The OIC hopes to complete the IoTivity standard within the first half of this year, and see IoT-compliant devices reach the market by the end of 2015.

"I think if we do this right, we can create one foundation and it can be very broadly used," said Skarpness. "Think of it as the W3C defining standard for how the Web works. There aren’t five of those, there’s only one, and we think that should be the case here too."

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IoTivity has its challengers, however. One open-source competitor that has gotten a lot of media attention is AllJoyn, a proposed IoT standard from the AllSeen Alliance consortium, whose roster includes tech behemoths Microsoft, Lenovo, Qualcomm, and Cisco. Complicating matters further are proprietary home automation frameworks, including Apple’s HomeKit and Belkin’s WeMo platforms.

Therein lies the interoperability conundrum.

"While it’s called the Internet of Things, it’s really more like a bunch of devices talking to their own siloed Internets," Liat Ben-Zur, chair of the AllSeen Alliance, told InformationWeek last April. "The thermostat talks to the thermostat’s cloud, and the refrigerator talks to the refrigerator manufacturer’s cloud."

(Photo Credit: Open Interconnect Consortium)
(Photo Credit: Open Interconnect Consortium)

IoTivity initially will focus on home automation, currently the IoT segment generating the most marketing buzz. But it’s also designed to embrace a wider spectrum of connected devices across different market segments, including medical, automotive, and industrial automation.

"Our vision is that, over time, the standard … will allow us to have a broad set of interoperable devices that support a common language for intercommunication" between products and services, he said. In addition to a scalable architecture, IoTivity features a "very clean" API abstraction layer that should speed product development, he claimed.

"People building devices don’t have to understand every nuance of all the different underlying physical layers," including popular wireless transports such as Bluetooth, WiFi, ZigBee, and Z-Wave.

"We paid a lot of attention to building a very clean, consistent way for a person using IoTivity to write their code once and be able to communicate across all those different technologies in a very clean way," Skarpness added. "So we think that’s going to make the life of the product-builder easier, and allow them to get products out faster."

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Jeff Bertolucci is a technology journalist in Los Angeles who writes mostly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, The Saturday Evening Post, and InformationWeek. View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
1/27/2015 | 12:26:05 PM
Re: IoTivity Preps For IoT Standards Showdown
This is good to hear - any time you hear mention of the big IoT explosion, the first thing out of everyone's mouth is 'but we need some standards and best practices in place' or 'we're just waiting on the standards and infrastructure'. Well, who do they think is supposed to make those standards? That's part of our job, guys. Good to see someone's actually putting in the work to make it happen, and I think the consortium approach is the right one. Anybody trying to make a product in this space first and sell it to device makers later is going to have a bad time - the IoTivity approach reminds me of OpenDaylight. Built from the ground up with the big players' needs in mind, but also built for the long haul, and open to everybody.

I like SaneIT's point quite a lot. On the one hand, it's not exactly like homeowners are foaming at the mouth to buy these IoT-connected thermostats (that is, we don't know how well these devices will sell one way or the other), but on the other hand, it's such a broad market that no matter what you make, you can rest assured that someone will buy it. That's all you need for the first generation - you can get some numbers on the board, see what sticks, and improve the product for the next generation. By contrast, maybe the enterprise market is slightly more sink-or-swim. As for IoTivity vs. AllSeen? Certainly not my area of expertise, but it sounds like IoTivity is a bit further along in development, which I would think counts for a lot in this space. Both have a big mobile name and an estbalished desktop name (Samsung/Intel v Qualcomm/Microsoft), but I think people will follow Samsung's lead on mobile.
User Rank: Ninja
1/21/2015 | 7:59:48 AM
Competing standards
Staring out in the home automation arena seems like the best place to be right now.  Many of the automated systems inside the corporate environment are nearly appliance like at this point and have a relatively long life,  the home market on the other hand is wide open and will advance faster in the short term.  Once people get used to the IoT in their homes it won't be so unusual to see it popping up in their offices.  The market also seems much wider in the consumer space.  Right now IoT inside a corporate environment is only going to be seen by a handful of people and everyone else is going to be oblivious that it even exists.  In the home it's going to have a much more personal touch.
User Rank: Ninja
1/20/2015 | 1:53:02 PM
Developing for IOTivity
Developing for IOTivity seems like a good way to launch and design your own standards and not worry about the platforming of the IOT device. This can set things straight and encourage IOT sales across a wide range of platforms even in parts of the world where people stick to one platform due to networking inconveniences.
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