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In IoT standards battle, there is no neutral zone for Electrolux's CTO

Patrick Thibodeau | Jan. 8, 2015
Jan Brockmann, the chief technology officer at AB Electrolux, one of the world's largest appliance makers, is on a mission at the International CES trade show to help shape the future of the Internet of Things.

But Philip DesAutels, senior director of IoT for the AllSeen Alliance, said bridging protocol differences is similar to translating a phrase in English to French and then translating the French back to English. The end result "doesn't sound like the letter you wrote in English. APIs are the same way. Things just don't fully map," he said.

DesAutels wants the competing groups to come together, "and think about this in a unified way, because something always gets lost in translation."

A meeting between the rival groups ought to have been easy this week, but none was planned. On Tuesday, DesAutels was on a CES trade show floor at the Sands, and officials from the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) were a short cab ride away in a Bellagio suite being used for demos. The groups says they do communicate, mostly through their members.

David McCall, an Intel employee and senior strategic planner at the OIC, bristles at the idea that this is a vendor turf war, and describes substantive differences in approaches.

For instance, the OIC is using the open source license Apache 2.0, which allows for patent protection, he said. AllSeen is using the ISC (Internet Software Consortium) license, which McCall said won't satisfy the legal requirements of many companies. "You need to deal with the world as it is," he said.

The OIC also wants a system that allows more flexibility by specific verticals that may want their own protocol implementations.

Ultimately, McCall said there will be one solution for IoT protocols, which is not unlike what DesAutels believes.

But there is no universal applications protocol for the IoT, and that is why Brockmann is talking to other vendors at CES about AllSeen. Because in the end, the protocol with the most vendor backing is probably the one that will win.


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