Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) joined the AllSeen Alliance, an open-source project founded on Qualcomm technology and aimed at coming up with a standard to connect devices and have them interact as part of the Internet of Things. The software giant's participation in the group adds heft to its membership, which has been largely dominated by consumer electronics and home appliance makers.
The AllSeen Alliance's leading members include Haier, LG Electronics, Panasonic and Sharp, and in total the group now has 51 members. Adding Microsoft could ensure that future Windows devices interact with other connected gadgets via the AllSeen Alliance's specifications.
"Microsoft believes that the Internet of Things is not a futuristic notion but is here today in the devices, sensors and cloud infrastructure all around us," Kevin Dallas, the general manager of Microsoft's Operating Systems Group, said in a statement. "But in order to make the Internet of Things truly successful, there are challenges to be addressed in securely connecting and managing all these devices and interacting with cloud services and machine-generated data. We believe the AllSeen Alliance is a very important effort to collaboratively address these challenges, and we're excited about joining the initiative."
In December 2013, Qualcomm gave the code behind its AllJoyn framework to the Linux Foundation. In turn, the Linux Foundation created the new AllSeen Alliance to use AllJoyn to create a software standard for IoT connections. The goal is to allow devices to discover and interact with nearby products by themselves regardless of their underlying proprietary technology or communications protocols. The AllSeen group also includes automotive companies, IoT cloud providers, enterprise technology companies, startups, chipset manufacturers, service providers, retailers and software developers.
The AllSeen Alliance is certainly not the only group aimed at standards for the Internet of Things. Indeed, the ZigBee and Z-Wave wireless protocols are being pushed by their respective backers as standards for IoT. Meanwhile, chipmakers that compete with Qualcomm plan to launch a rival standards consortium as early as next week, an unnamed industry source who was familiar with the plans told Reuters.
Further, AT&T (NYSE:T), Cisco Systems, General Electric, IBM and Intel recently formed the Industrial Internet Consortium to create standards as well.
Separately, in June Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) unveiled its own HomeKit software, which is an attempt by Apple to bring some "rationality" into the home automation space by creating guidelines for companies that are building remotely controlled lights, door locks, thermostats and other home automation programs. Apple wants to prevent confusion among users who must currently access separate apps for each of their home automation products.
"All these things need a standard. Nobody wants to buy a TV and have to make sure their speakers are compliant," Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon told Reuters. "But we're in an experimentation phase with the Internet of Things. It's early days and nobody knows what it's eventually going to look like."
- see this release
- see this Reuters article
BlackBerry banks on security heritage to drive 'Project Ion' Internet of Things platform
AT&T to open up Digital Life home security and automation systems to third-party products
AT&T, Cisco, GE, IBM and Intel form Industrial Internet Consortium for IoT standards
AT&T, cable home automation supplier iControl join AllSeen Alliance
Using Qualcomm's AllJoyn, AllSeen Alliance launches to create standard for Internet of Things