Work Continues in IoT Standards, but Don’t Expect Miracles This Year

By: Jeff Bertolucci| - Leave a comment

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a compelling concept — billions of connected devices embedded with sensors, software and network connectivity, sharing data globally to enable smart cities, autonomous transportation and other innovative technology. There’s just one problem: IoT standards, regulations and best practices are still being developed, a process that may take years. The good news: There’s progress happening, albeit not as quickly as many IoT proponents might like.

CIO reports that a harmonic convergence is underway between the various standard bodies created to make the IoT a real thing. The promising trend was evident last year, when two of the largest IoT standards bodies, the AllSeen Alliance and the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), merged under the OCF name and bylaws to advance connectivity between devices from both groups.

Another positive sign last year came when chipmaker Sigma Designs, the main backer of the Z-Wave home networking standard, made Z-Wave’s interoperability layer (the code that enables Z-Wave devices to share information) free and available to all. The benefit? Any developer can now download the code, write software with it and share it with others, notes CIO.

Developments From CES 2017

This month’s CES 2017 in Las Vegas brought some encouraging IoT news as well. The zigbee alliance, an industry consortium that oversees a short-range wireless spec most commonly used in home automation and industrial devices, announced dotdot, a proposed “universal language for the IoT” that enables connected devices to communicate via any network, the group says. dotdot is an open application layer based on the upper-layer protocol used by zigbee devices. It’s also compatible with Thread networks, yet another IoT protocol.

Also at CES, Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant garnered a lot of media attention as a potential operating system for the IoT, at least on the consumer side of things, as dozens of Alexa-enabled devices either debuted or were announced at the massive trade show, CNBC reports.

In other IoT news, the IEEE p2413 standard — an architectural framework for IoT — may be ready this year, says p2413 working group chairman Oleg Logvinov, according to CIO. The standard would encompass all industrial and consumer devices.

Too Many Cooks

Despite the many efforts to finalize IoT standards, the biggest problem may be the fact that developers and consumers still have too many choices. In a report last week, the U.S. Department of Commerce said the United States government should take an active role in “fostering the advancement” of the IoT, including advocating and defending an open, globally connected environment built upon “industry-driven, consensus-based standards.”

Acknowledging that there’s a wide variety of “regional and international entities engaged in standards development,” the Commerce Department said it would continue to support private-sector standardization efforts and “greater collaboration between standards organizations,” as well as “advocate against attempts by governments to impose top-down, technology-specific ‘solutions’ to IoT standardization needs.”

The bottom line: IoT standards may still be a few years off, as interested parties around the world have their say.

“Every major computing and silicon vendor is competing in this space, and there hasn’t been a consolidation around winners just yet,” Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart told CIO. “The [IoT] market is kind of a mess right now.”

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About The Author

Jeff Bertolucci

News Writer

Jeff Bertolucci is a Los Angeles-based journalist specializing in technology, digital media, and education. His work has appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance, InformationWeek, PCWorld, Macworld, The Saturday Evening Post, The Los Angeles Times and many other publications.