The AllSeen Alliance, which grew out of a project that Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) started more than five years ago, is marking a major milestone this week with Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) launch of Windows 10. Every Windows 10 device will have the alliance's open source software framework AllJoyn in it.
Whereas earlier this week AllJoyn was in more than 10 million products, "that number goes through the roof" now that Windows 10 has launched because AllJoyn is in the core protocol in every Windows 10 device, according to Philip DesAutels, senior director of IoT for the AllSeen Alliance.
Microsoft is launching Windows 10 in 190 countries as a free upgrade for PC users running Windows 7 and 8.1. The operating system also is being shipped on new PCs, tablet PCs, mobile phones, the Raspberry Pi device and the Xbox One games console.
"I hope Microsoft is wildly successful and we're in 50 or 60 million devices by the end of the week, but they can do that and they have done that because the AllJoyn that Microsoft is using is the same AllJoyn" that anybody can download from the website, DesAutels told FierceWirelessTech. "AllJoyn isn't just a great idea that's being turned into code. It's really a robust code base, it's a robust platform," as well as a protocol that's been tested and tried over and over again in different products.
The AllSeen Alliance this week also welcomed Philips as a premier member, joining more than 170 other members. The alliance says the investment by Philips, a well-known brand, affirms the need for collaborative development and ownership of an open platform to overcome the interoperability challenges that impede movement in the Internet of Things.
"It's part of a trend by big companies betting on a big story and that big story is, I think, the fundamental story here, which is we need an open and interoperable platform to create a marketplace," DesAutels said. "It's one thing to have an island of connected technology. It's another to glue a few of those together. It's a completely different premise to vote with your feet, and that's what's going on here," he said, noting the size of the membership. "This continuous drumbeat is a strong vote, month over month, in the importance of creating an ecosystem."
DesAutels acknowledges the myriad competing IoT technology groups vying for attention. Two other IoT alliances are members of the AllSeen Allaince. The EnOcean Alliance makes "amazing" sensors that don't need a power source; they get power from the environment, and the ULE Alliance is looking at ways to incorporate AllJoyn in its technology.
In April, the ZigBee Alliance and the Thread Group announced a collaboration that marked a significant step toward IoT interoperability. DesAutels says AllJoyn and Thread are "super compatible." At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this past January, Freescale demonstrated AllJoyn running on top of Thread, which is a transport mechanism for IoT, but it doesn't want to be an application layer. Meanwhile, AllJoyn is an application layer that works with multiple transports.
The bottom line is people want everything to work together, and while a lot of IoT technologies are out there, he sees them as coalescing toward a few efforts that are all striving to solve the problem of making things work together.
"I think there will be several of these protocols at the end of the day" in part because there will always be some proprietary protocols. However -- and this won't happen immediately -- eventually there will be a generally accepted IoT framework that makes it so that most products talk together and work together in a consistent, safe and secure way, he said.
And he doesn't rule out the possibility that the AllSeen Alliance might one day work with the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), which is backed by Intel and Samsung, among others. Both groups want the same thing at the end of the day, which is an open, interoperable way to connect things, and they believe in a lot of the same things, like openness, innovation and bringing people together.
"If you look at the technology, they're not all that different," he added. The two projects have taken a very different approach to getting to their end points, but "these two projects are not very different. It's really history that separates the groups more than anything else. It's my strongest hope that these two projects can really come together and figure out how to really accelerate the market. This is a case of one plus one equals three. If more of the groups can come together, then energy isn't spent on duplicating work." Instead, energy is being spent on creating new pieces of the story and making things more valuable in a common way. "We in the alliance really would like to see one group of people working on this problem in a big open community," DesAutels said.
The next big update for AllJoyn will come in September with the 15.09 release, addressing something the alliance refers to as Security 2.0. DesAutels describes it generally as a way for users and devices to create more complicated rules around how they interact. For example, if you buy a thermostat and install it in your house, you may want to give permission to control that thermostat to a select few people in the house. Or you might want to give a house sitter permission for a limited time, or allow an energy monitoring company to see usage but not control the temperature. "That all requires a lot of security concepts, user groups, roles, relationships. And we're adding that layer of capability into AllJoyn in this release," so companies building products can put more capabilities into their products. It will also let AllJoyn make the leap to enterprise, industrial and commercial settings in a much bigger way, he said.
- see this press release
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