It was way back in 1999 that Kevin Ashton had coined the term – "The Internet of Things". He had proposed that the "information technology is so dependent on data originated by people that our computers know more about ideas than things. If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about thingsâ€"using data they gathered without any help from usâ€"we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best. The Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did."
Almost 14 years later, we still haven't seen much development in terms of a connected world. Qualcomm's Senior VP, Rob Chandhok had explained eighteen months ago at Computex in Taiwan, why the Internet of things was failing. In his own words – "Manufacturer A has their Android app, Manufacturer B has theirs, [and] Manufacturer C has theirs. If I have three TVs, I need three different apps, three different experiences, all to do essentially the same thing." This is essentially the root cause for the failure of the Internet of Things – lack of a common language for multitude devices by different OEMs to communicate in. Instead of working together, manufacturers have been designing their devices to communicate in a siloed ecosystem using their proprietary software.
Qualcomm now believes that it can tackle this problem and in conjunction with the Linux Foundation, has aggressively led the formation of the AllSeen Alliance for promulgation of the internet of Things.
In their own words, "the AllSeen Alliance is a nonprofit consortium dedicated to enabling and driving the widespread adoption of products, systems and services that support the Internet of Everything with an open, universal development framework supported by a vibrant ecosystem and thriving technical community. It is the broadest cross-industry consortium to date to advance adoption and innovation in the "Internet of Everything" in homes and industry."
The AllSeen Alliance is a new consortium dedicated towards the building and maintaining of an open source ecosystem framework that would enable all sorts of devices to communicate seamlessly with each other. Qualcomm, LG, Panasonic, Haier, Silicon Image and TP-LINK are headlining the initiative, whereas Cisco, Sears, and Wilocity have also jumped onto the bandwagon. The star of the Alliance is undeniably Qualcomm, as the Alliance is based on a piece of Qualcomm technology – the AllJoyn tech. In the words of Qualcomm, "AllJoyn's is the language of interfaces". What AllJoyn does is that eases the pain of having to pair devices over WiFi or Bluetooth manually, instead it automatically allows devices to discover each other and negotiate connections with whichever protocols are available.
Qualcomm is spinning off the code of AllJoyn to the AllSeen Alliance for free, and essentially converting it to Open Source. As per Rob Chandhok, SVP Qualcomm and Jim Zemlin, Executive Director Linux Foundation, the idea of spinning off Alljoyn for the creation of a non-profit consortium is the logical next step in the evolution of AllJoyn into a veritable standard.
Rob Chandhok states that "We're at this place where people are trying to do everything vertically because they don't see another solution, and the Alliance is saying 'here's a big honking piece of functionality Qualcomm is willing to give away. It's a huge problem that needs to be solved… that simply makes no sense for everybody to keep reinventing by themselves over and over." To which Jim Zemlin adds -"I think this code is going to talk, when people see what's there, how they can immediately benefit in their products today, you're going to see a lot more organizations piling on."
The chances of the AllSeem standard picking up commercially are better, because its main task of discovering devices, negotiating connections is network, device and OS agnostic. With the kind of OEMs currently joined up in the consortium, Chandhok feels that the technology could soon have interfaces to control lighting, heating and air conditioning. He states that "experiences are going to start small, just like the locks and lightbulbs, and are going to slowly get more integrated."
The first AllSeen products will be showcased during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January next year; including new TVs from LG. It seems evolutionary times for our connected devices are just around the corner.