Many enterprises and companies struggle to ensure broad interoperability of their IoT components for a seamlessly connected IoT ecosystem. Most of these IoT enterprises have recognized these challenges and are working to solve a few of them. One of the ways to resolve these IoT interoperability and connectivity challenges is to have common semantics and standards.
Why utilize IoT standards
With IoT standards, enterprises can ensure cooperation between the different environments and networks. Using standardization, device compatibility issues can be overcome without the need to invest in the extra hardware and software for connecting devices. IoT standards not only help in allowing the devices from different vendors to communicate, but it also helps in increasing the ecosystem of devices for consumers to experience a true IoT solution. Moreover, other compatibility issues such as lack of standardized protocol as well as diversities in the firmware and operating systems can also be taken care.
There are different standards, consortiums or foundations in the market, which companies are adopting to reshape their existing IoT ecosystem.
Consortiums of IoT standards
In the IoT market, device makers either have to choose between different frameworks provided by Apple, Amazon, or Google, which limit their market share or develop their own framework for standardization across multiple IoT ecosystems, which increases their costs. This might also create a challenge for end users to ensure that the products they use are compatible with the ecosystem they have acquired or alternately, find some other ways to integrate their devices into the network. To overcome this, industry players have come together to form associations/foundations and consortiums of standards around the various IoT components, including connected buildings, connected home and industry IoT.
The Internet of Things Consortium (IoTC) is a premier business development trade association for the internet of things (IoT) ecosystem. The mission of this consortium is to ignite the growth of IoT marketplace by leading the industry’s efforts in encouraging adoption of IoT products, strategic partnerships, services, and market knowledge sharing.
Apart from this, there are different IoT consortiums and alliance solution providers. Below are some of the key consortiums that lay down IoT standards:
1. Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF)
OCF is one of the biggest industrial connectivity standards organizations for IoT. OCF is an industry group whose aim is to develop specification standards to ensure a set of secure interoperability guidelines for consumers, businesses, and industries by delivering a standard communication protocol and provide a certification program for devices associated with the Internet of Things. The main motto of this foundation is to provide interoperability elements for an IoT solution.
Open Connectivity Foundation was originally started in 2014 as Open Internet Consortium (OIC), aiming to deliver a framework which can enable “Internet of Everything”. Intel, Samsung, Dell, Atmel, and Wind River founded OIC foundation, however, in 2017 the group name was changed to OCF with the addition of some premium members, including Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Electrolux. Currently, this foundation consists of more than 300 member companies.
Open Connectivity Foundation sponsors IoTivity open source project and AllSeen Alliance, which provides AllJoyn open source IoT framework hosted by the Linux Foundation. IoTivity’s architectural goal is to connect both wired and wireless devices with each other and with the internet to ensure a protectable and robust architecture that works for smart and thin devices. OCF with an added advantage of AllJoyn framework created by AllSeen Alliance allows devices to communicate with peripheral devices with the help of OCF. This framework is flexible and promotes the proximal network and has a cloud connection. In October 2016, AllJoyn was merged with IoTivity, allowing interoperable and backward compatible devices to support this change. Project license has been changed to Apache 2.0 from Apache 1.2.1, which makes it easier for other open source projects to adopt AllJoyn and IoTivity in their project.
iHome is a consortium of the Apple ecosystem. iHome is currently pioneering in the connected consumer electronics, compatible with Apple and Android portable devices and has capabilities in the audio accessories market as well as in digital player speakers, smart plug, and smart monitor. iHome has a free control app to control iHome SmartPlug from Android or iOS devices, virtually from anywhere in the world via phone or tablet. iHome has a framework called HomeKit that provides a facility to configure accessories and create actions to control them. It also allows users to communicate and control connected accessories in their homes using apps.
iHome joins the wireless power consortium for wireless charging in the new alarm clock, which is compatible with Android devices. This consortium works only in smart home products, so it fails in other domains. To overcome this issue, they have to merge with some foundations like OCF or acquire some technologies to support different domains.
3. Thread Group
It is difficult to get multiple devices to talk to one another. Most of the technologies rely on a single device to communicate with products around the home. So if one device fails, the whole network goes down. That is why the thread technology has been released by the Thread Group. It has a mesh network based on Google Nest’s protocol, designed securely and reliably to connect hundreds of products for the home appliances, access control, climate control, energy management, lighting, safety, and security without blowing through battery life. The Thread Group was founded by a variety of vendors, including ARM, Nest, Samsung and Silicon Labs. Thread networks are secure, scalable, and simple, and are authenticated by the smartphone-era scheme and AES encryption security.
Thread Group’s technology is built on open standards and IPv6/6LoWPAN protocols to simply and securely connect products around the house. 6LoWPAN is a power-efficient power area network protocol with underlying standards of IPv6 and IEEE 802.15.4. It solves the battery issue as it has a capability of running for a long period with a long-lasting battery.
The Thread group and OCF have inked a liaison agreement with a view to further enhance cross-application interoperability and device connectivity in connected homes. The agenda of the Thread Group is to develop a low power, secured, and scalable IPV6-based wireless mesh network layer that is purely designed to enable IoT devices to connect more easily to the internet and with each other.
Joining or following any of the above IoT consortiums and standards can help solve problems like complexity, scalability, interoperability, connectivity, compatibility of the IoT devices and connected ecosystem. Out of all the standard consortiums discussed above, OCF is a consortium that is merging with different consortiums. Hence, the area covered by OCF is increasing. If all the consortiums merge into OCF, then it can provide a complete solution for all IoT related interoperability issues.
eInfochips is a member of the Open Connectivity Foundation and is capable of solving the challenges of interoperability, security, and availability of devices. We also have our framework on IoT gateway that allows accelerating sensor to cloud connectivity with a high availability on the OT (operational technology) side.
eInfochips’ IoT gateway is a secure communication framework, a standard for application and services to interact with IoT resources, mapping to multiple projects and bridging the other IoT ecosystems. To know how IoT Gateway can solve your connectivity and security issues, download the brochure.