The industry behind the Internet of Things moves closer to talking the same language and making it easier to develop products.
Leaders of dueling technology industry groups said Friday that they were joining forces in the early stages of an effort to make sure the Internet-connected home of the future won’t require a mess of different remote controls.
Qualcomm and Microsoft, leading members of the AllSeen Alliance, will link up with Intel and Samsung, members of the rival Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), to form a new trade group working to get the universe of home appliances and industrial devices to speak the same digital language.
The new group announced on Friday, dubbed the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), will supersede the OIC. The AllSeen Alliance will remain a separate entity.
In addition to Qualcomm and Microsoft, AllSeen members taking part include Cisco and appliance maker Electrolux.
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“That’s a very unusual group of people working together,” said Mike Richmond, a career Intel manager and executive director of the new OCF. “There’s been so much written about fragmentation (in the industry), and we’re just thrilled to be able to do something in the other direction.”
Big advances in technology are typically accompanied by industrywide efforts to come up with a standard set of rules to make the new advance simpler for manufacturers and customers.
In the 1800s, that meant standardizing railroad track gauges so trains could be built to move across a rail system regardless of who built the railway. In the information age, trade groups coalesced around standards that bring order to things like DVD players, Internet browsing, and Wi-Fi connections.
This latest instance involves the Internet of Things, the catchall term for the burgeoning roster of devices, from light bulbs to stoves, that can be equipped with sensors and be connected to the Internet. The early efforts at standardization in the field didn’t bring much harmony.
Intel and Samsung, the world’s largest chip-makers, split from Qualcomm-led AllSeen in 2014 to form a rival group, the OIC. The divergence was said to be driven by concerns that the standards AllSeen was pursuing didn’t include sufficient protection from intellectual-property lawsuits by the companies whose engineers were donating time and research to the effort.
In a Friday blog posttouting the new consortium, Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive vice president overseeing the Windows and Devices group, said the industry’s fragmentation, and company-specific closed standards, had hindered innovation. The Redmond company is pushing to spur adoption of its Windows 10 operating system and Azure cloud-computing platform in part by making them compatible with a wide array of technologies.
“I consider this Day One,” said Matt Perry, a partner group program manager at Microsoft who works with chip-makers. “Step one is to get all these great companies together with the goal of getting a combined language.“