Wi-Fi Alliance opens arms to more Internet of Things companies

The Wi-Fi Alliance is doing its part to make sure Wi-Fi remains a viable Internet of Things (IoT) technology in the connected home, adding a new level of membership for certain companies that make things like refrigerators, door locks and lighting systems.

The new Implementer Member class addresses the needs of companies that do not specialize in developing connectivity technologies but want to deliver connected products with certified interoperability and security protections in categories such as smart home and IoT, according to the alliance.

Many companies are adding connectivity to products not historically thought of as high-tech -- including a range of smart home and Internet of Things devices. The Implementer membership will enable these companies that do not specialize in developing connectivity technologies -- but rely on Wi-Fi to connect their products -- to deliver the Wi-Fi Certified seal of approval and ensure their connected products come with certified interoperability and security protections, the Wi-Fi Alliance told FierceWirelessTech.

"These companies can focus on other aspects more closely related to their line of business, while ensuring Wi-Fi interoperability, legacy compatibility and secure operations with billions of devices in the Wi-Fi installed base," the alliance said, noting that examples of these types of companies are home appliance manufacturers producing refrigerators, vacuums, crockpots and home security companies developing things like connected door locks and lighting systems.

It's worth noting that Implementer Members are not eligible to contribute to the development of Wi-Fi technology, marketing and regulatory programs.

The Wi-Fi Alliance said it will soon expand its portfolio of solutions for products in the smart home and burgeoning IoT market. One Wi-Fi innovation on the horizon will address use cases requiring the lowest power consumption including wearables, sensor networks and industrial automation. The Wi-Fi Alliance is also developing a new secure and simple way to connect and configure devices that do not have a display or input mechanisms, as is the case with many smart home devices.

Other technologies targeting the connected home include ZigBee and Bluetooth Smart. Last week, the 3GPP made progress toward defining a low-power LTE radio specification for IoT networking by agreeing on a work item that looks to combine two rival proposals, narrow-band, long-term evolution (NB-LTE) and narrowband cellular to IoT (CIoT). The new technology will provide better indoor coverage, as well as support for a massive number of low throughput devices, low delay sensitivity, ultra-low device cost, low device power consumption and optimized network architecture, according to blog post.

Of course, security is an oft-cited concern when it comes to the IoT, and the Wi-Fi Alliance says it's critical that these devices have the highest level of security to protect valuable and personal information that may be exchanged between devices. Interoperability, legacy compatibility and secure operation are core features of the Wi-Fi Certified program.

"Implementer Members, along with all Wi-Fi Alliance members who ensure their products are Wi-Fi Certified, can be confident that their devices contain the highest level of government-grade, WPA2 security," the alliance said. "Because of this, Implementer membership will ensure the terrific Wi-Fi user experience of the last 15 years extends to new device categories and market segments, including smart home and IoT."

For more:
- see this press release

Related articles:
Nokia, Ericsson, Intel back NB-LTE, yet another wireless technology for IoT
AT&T among those backing GSMA's Low Power Wide Area M2M initiative
From Z-Wave to ZigBee: new VP Walters sees changes in the IoT air
Thread Group, ZigBee Alliance announce collaboration to reduce IoT fragmentation