Like grains of sand on a beach, there are a seemingly infinite number of standards and protocols applicable to the internet of things. So I’m not sure if it matters that Intel, Samsung, Broadcom, Atmel and Wind River (an Intel company) have launched the Open Interconnect Consortium.
The effort will join others, such as the All Seen Alliance, the Industrial Internet Consortium (which also has Intel as a founding member) and smaller protocols such as MQTT and XMP as ways to help devices communicate and share information.
High quality standards help both consumers and businesses. Life without the 802.11 radio protocol would mean no interoperable Wi-Fi devices, and I also can’t imagine life without USB or Ethernet.
Like all standards efforts, the goal here is to get enough big name companies and products to implement a chosen standard so it becomes the de facto protocol or standard for a new element of the digital economy. Founding members join so they can control and add their input to a process.
This effort is no different, and Gary Martz, product line manager at Intel, said that while we’ll have to wait until the third quarter to see the code, the goal here is improve discoverability of devices and authentication. The plan is to contribute a peer-to-peer protocol that handles these elements, although the exact details — such as the use or even support of standards like OAuth — were unclear. To me, this sounded a lot like AllJoyn, the code Qualcomm has submitted to the AllSeen Alliance and has since open sourced.
Martz said that there is a key difference with OIC, namely in that it wouldn’t be created by one company and then open sourced, but would rather be created as part of a collaborative process between the member companies. That collaborative process is one reason we need to wait for the code — the consortium is announcing itself before it has a product. Martz also clarified that while Intel is both a member of the OIC and the Industrial Internet Consortium with GE, AT&T, IBM and Cisco, the two organizations are very different.
The IIC is working to suggest blueprints for how to build IoT systems in industrial contexts and will seek to influence standards efforts as opposed to set its own. It also will focused solely on the industrial use cases, while the OIC is paying most attention to the smart home and office at first. At this point, we’ll have to wait and see how developers view the OIC.
The inclusion of Samsung is certainly a coup, although less of a coup considering it’s the only real big name consumer brand participating, and that the chip companies involved here aren’t too keen on Qualcomm and will eventually conform to whatever standard their clients demand. AllSeen already has products on the market using the protocol and many more consumer brands, but it’s still so early in the process we can’t know what wins.
I just hope something does, or we’re going to have a fragmented industry with all the pain that entails.