Australia based digital solutions company Two Bulls has won a development contract with the Linux Foundation to develop Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity on a truly global scale. The company - whose innovative work in the IoT space has also led to a spinout of its smart home-centric Higgns platform – was awarded the 12-month contract to provide developmental resources to the AllJoyn framework.
Originally developed by Qualcomm, the open source AllJoyn framework allows smart devices to discover each other and work together regardless of manufacturer. The AllJoyn framework is now overseen by the AllSeen Alliance, an organisation formed in 2013 and backed by dozens of technology heavyweights including Microsoft, Cisco, Sony, Sharp and LG.
Two Bulls CEO James Kane credits the contract win to the company’s reputation in the IoT space and its strong ties with the AllSeen Alliance. “Our relationship with the AllSeen Aliance has seen us develop a number of incredible products, and we look forward to taking this further”, Kane said. “We’ve been privileged to work with a number of amazing clients over the last seven years, giving us the experience and depth of skill to tackle the most interesting and innovative projects”.
2016 is quickly becoming a landmark year for the AllSeen Alliance. The year started at CES in Las Vegas, where more than a dozen AllJoyn software framework compatible smart home products were announced. These devices will be able to find and interact with each other through the AllJoyn IoT platform.
The announcements at CES represent the first big batch of products to be certified for AllJoyn interoperability since the first were announced last October - Microsoft's Windows 10 Professional and Surface Pro 3. Products include LG Electronics Smart Air Conditioner, LG's WebOS TV, LIFX light bulbs, The Heaven Fresh humidifier and air purifier, as well as Icontrol Networks Piper home security and awareness system.
On the new level of interaction between AllJoyn products, Icontrol said, “the Piper could notify other devices of alarm events like a door opening or motion being detected. For example, it could make notifications appear on an LG TV or turn on a LIFX light bulb”, in a company statement.
Millions of devices have already shipped with earlier forms of the AllJoyn framework. However, this new batch of certified products have gone through much more stringent tests to make sure they will work seamlessly with all other certified devices. The Alliance has suggested that some products already in circulation may be upgraded later to meet the standard.
Consumers will never “see” Allseen, but it provides a standard framework for integrating and talking with any type of device. The consortium understands that it’s all about the consumer and delivering integrated solutions that change the way people live. Their products are all about getting solutions to market that make people’s lives easier and their membership represents home automation brands that people care about.
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The framework is designed to make it simpler and easier for vendors to integrate their solutions, providing a simpler way to make lifestyle scenes happen, but they are not the only ones. There are three major groups attempting to standardise a solution for IoT connectivity: OCF, AllSeen Alliance and Thread Group.
Initially founded by Intel, Broadcom and Samsung, the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) is another standard with Microsoft, Qualcomm and Electrolux as members. Originally called the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) was established in 2014 with the purpose of standardising communication between IoT devices, initially based on the CoAP protocol. The reference implementation of their specification is called IoTivity, an open source project hosted by the Linux Foundation and licensed under Apache 2.0.
The Thread Group also came into the scene in July 2014, but it has a more limited scope than its counterparts and a simpler approach for creating a mesh network based on Google Nest’s protocol. Like OCF and Allseen, Thread also has some 200 members including ARM, Intel, LG, Microsoft, Nest, Qualcomm, and Samsung.
These three major attempts to standardise the communication protocols between IoT devices has led to some companies backing one or another approach, while other companies supporting two or all three of them. Microsoft, as a generalist software developer, who want to make sure they have all bases covered have announced that Windows 10 will support AllJoyn and intends to run AllJoyn over Thread, and now promises to support IoTivity too.
IoT has not taken off yet, and the industry is split over which path to follow. Whether they continue on divergent paths or join efforts behind one body that will standardise the communications is yet to be seen.