AllSeen Alliance ripens IoT market with new gateway and new members

LAS VEGAS--The AllSeen Alliance announced a new gateway "agent" that the association said represents a major step forward for its AllJoyn protocol. The group also announced a handful of new members, news that brings the total number of AllSeen Alliance member companies to 112.

In an interview with FierceWirelessTech here on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show, AllSeen's Philip DesAutels explained that the group's new gateway agent helps make the AllJoyn protocol a more complete solution for the Internet of Things. DesAutels, senior director of IoT for the AllSeen Alliance, said the gateway essentially allows AllJoyn products to securely communicate with the wider Internet.

"That's why the gateway announcement is such a key announcement," he said.

DesAutels explained that the AllSeen Alliance is essentially an open-source project, not a standards group--making AllJoyn similar to Java or WebKit. He said the group has made dramatic progress in its first year or so of operating, having signed up major supporters like Microsoft, Sony and LG. Further, he said the group late last year released its first major specification, the Lighting Service Framework from its Connected Lighting Working Group, which the group said will allow "new levels of interoperability between connected devices and lights, but also provide third-party developers building applications a way to discover and control lighting in an open, common way across manufacturers." DesAutels said the Lighting Service Framework essentially creates firm guidelines for lighting devices to talk to each other through the AllJoyn protocol, so that lights from one AllSeen manufacturer can interoperate with lights from another AllSeen manufacturer.

Now, with the release of its new gateway, the AllSeen Alliance has specifications both for devices to communicate with each other (such as through the Lighting Service Framework) as well as a way for those devices to communicate with the wider Internet (via the gateway). DesAutels said that the Alliance is now focusing on finishing specifications for other families of devices including home appliances and home automation products--those devices will also communicate with the wider Internet via the group's gateway.

DesAutels said that the Internet of Things space is developing in the same way as the Internet did. He said that, right now, there are a variety of IoT standards and protocols, and they do not communicate with each other--similar to the early days of the Internet when users stayed inside walled gardens like AOL or Prodigy. He said the AllSeen Alliance is helping to knock down those walls with an interoperable protocol that will connect different devices from different providers via an open-source protocol.

Having an interoperable protocol "is like having a dial tone," DesAutels said. "Is it (interoperability) solved? No. But I think AllJoyn is bringing the right solutions to the table."

DesAutels acknowledged that there is a significant amount of noise in the IoT marketplace, with protocols and standards from the likes of the Thread Group and the Open Interconnect Consortium. But he said the AllJoyn protocol may well eventually work alongside other such technologies. "These things need to come together," he said. "We're an open-source project; I want everyone here."

And what of Qualcomm, the company that initially designed the AllJoyn protocol and then in 2013 gave it to the Linux Foundation? During Qualcomm's press conference here at CES, Qualcomm President Derek Aberle explained that the company plans to make money from its work in AllJoyn by licensing technology built on top of the existing, base protocol (which is free for anyone to use). For example, he said the company designed a streaming audio technology on top of AllJoyn and plans to license that technology out to other companies that wish to use it.

For more:
- see these two AllSeen Alliance releases

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