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IoT groups are like an orchestra tuning up: The music starts in 2016

Stephen Lawson | Jan. 2, 2015
Multiple industry groups formed in 2014, and there will probably be just as many a year from now.

- Thread Group: Founded by companies including ARM Holdings, Samsung, and Google's thermostat-and-smoke-alarm acquisition, Nest Labs, Thread is promoting a mesh networking protocol for low-power devices around homes. Thread's protocol works on a type of chip that's already on the market, and it gives every device an IPv6 address. The technology doesn't define anything other than networking, so it appears as if higher layer specifications like AllSeen and OIC could be used in Thread products, according to Thread Group president Chris Boross. Thread started in July and now has more than 50 members. It plans to start certifying products in the first half of 2015.

- Industrial Internet Consortium: General Electric, Cisco Systems, IBM, Intel and AT&T announced the IIC in March with a focus, not surprisingly, on enterprise IoT. The group says it won't set standards but instead will work with standards bodies to help make sure technologies work together across business sectors. It wants to foster coordination among industries where IoT and older M2M (machine-to-machine) technologies have been developed in relative isolation. That will involve defining requirements for standards, designing reference architectures and creating testbeds. It has grown to more than 100 members, including Microsoft, Samsung and Huawei Technologies.

- IEEE P2413: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is part of the old guard of standards bodies, the kinds of groups that vendors talk about when they say official standards are taking too long. They say that even though the working groups at places like the IEEE are made up largely of engineers from those same vendors -- though voting as individuals. Undaunted, the IEEE has formed a working group to bring some order to the array of IoT specifications being developed by industry consortia. Among other things, it plans to turn the information from different IoT platforms into commonly understood data objects. The group held its first meeting in July, with 23 vendors and organizations involved, and hopes to finish its work on the future standard by 2016. There's already a first version of a draft standard, which will probably remain in development for about a year before it's ready to face the world, said Working Group Chair Oleg Logvinov, who is also director of special assignments at STMicroelectronics. Meanwhile the group is establishing relationships with many other IoT organizations, he said.

The fresh faces of 2014 joined other bodies that were already active, including oneM2M, which is developing a common service layer for M2M systems, and the International Society for Automation's ISA100 Committee, dedicated to standardizing wireless systems for automation and control.

That doesn't mean there are half a dozen distinct approaches to IoT all warring with each other. Some organizations, such as AllSeen and OIC or IIC and oneM2M, may be creating competing solutions to the same problem. But what some groups are building may complement other standards.


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