An interconnected world needs a connected outlook
If working in public relations teaches you anything, it’s that uncompromised channels of communication are vital to achieving success in any sector.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is about connectivity; connecting machines within networks, connecting networks to produce correlated outputs, and then ensuring these outputs effectively convey tangible benefits to us.
It is therefore strange that the major players pushing for (and seeking benefits from) the IoT are so reluctant to cooperate with each other. OEM’s, data handlers and software developers have (for the most part) huddled together on opposite sides of the IoT playground, desperately searching for an as yet unclear edge over their rivals.
The chipmaker Qualcomm, in conjunction with tech giants Microsoft, Cisco, D-Link and LG (amongst others), has recently formed the ‘All Seen Alliance’. The grouping hopes to ‘enable widespread adoption and help accelerate the development and evolution of an interoperable peer connectivity’ through Qualcomm’s ‘All Joyn’ open source communication platform.
Progress perhaps. But what’s an alliance without an adversary?
Enter Intel, Samsung and Broadcom’s ‘Open Interconnect Consortium’ who ‘seek to define a common communication framework based on industry standard technologies to wirelessly connect and intelligently manage the flow of information among devices’. To really complicate matters, Google’s ‘Nest’ and Apple’s ‘iHome’ are both going it alone, conforming to neither.
The potential for disagreement is conspiring to form an internet of disconnected islands (IoDI), encouraging a lack of connectivity that will chip at the Internet of Everything’s founding idealism.
The Big Issue
The IoT is certainly maturing, but its ultimate purpose remains unclear. As a development that provides efficiency above all, businesses are reluctant to acknowledge what could evolve into a primarily ‘value added’ service. Larger companies are seeking to colonise smaller companies to placate fears of being left behind, while smaller firms are grateful for the reassurance that partnerships bring in turbulent times.
Unchecked, these movements will have two effects. First, the IoT will become branded to the point that consumers are forced to rely upon a limited number of products and manufacturers – damaging the free, open source approach promoted by the likes of AllJoyn. More importantly, in the absence of interoperability the vast opportunities’ of the IoT will be lost.
The advent of the IoT bears many similarities to that of the Internet proper. At its inception corporate interests could have stifled both. The internet succeeded exactly because this did not happen.
While much of the future of the IoT is uncertain, one thing is clear. Its future relies on the major players working together to consolidate their progress up to now, and tackling the issue of creating a universal framework upon which they can all build. Only then will we truly reap the rewards of the IoT, in its purest form. Let us hope the IoT will mirror its more mature cousin as time progresses.