AT&T (NYSE:T), Cisco Systems, General Electric, IBM and Intel are coming together to form a new group to try to create standards for the sensors inside machines and sprouting up around cities as part of the Internet of Things.
The giant companies are touting the creation of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) as a major development--but as GigaOM notes, AT&T, GE, Cisco and Intel announced a partnership last fall, and IBM has been pushing its MQTT standard since last April. Further, in February AT&T and IBM said they would work together on IoT projects.
As wireless sensors get put into everything from turbines and engines to refrigerators and lampposts, the new, non-profit IIC group will focus on testing IoT applications, coming up with best practices and standards, influencing global IoT standards for Internet and industrial systems, creating a forum for sharing ideas and in general pushing the ecosystem forward.
"I don't think anything this big has been tried before" in terms of such large industrial and Internet cooperation, William Ruh, vice president of GE's global software center, told the New York Times. "This is how we will make machines, people and data work together."
The new group is focused on "industrial Internet" apps in markets including manufacturing, oil and gas exploration, healthcare and transportation. In those areas, vendors often don't make it easy for hardware and software solutions to work together with those from competing vendors, the Wall Street Journal noted.
"They want to control it all," Tony Shakib, a vice president in Cisco's Internet of Things business group, told the Journal. The IIC "sends a message to everyone that we all have to play with each other."
AT&T, Cisco, GE, IBM and Intel will each hold permanent seats on an elected IIC steering committee along with four other elected members. The steering committee will provide leadership and governance for the overall group, according to the companies. However, membership in the IIC is open to anyone.
The companies are not the only ones trying to create IoT standards. Late last year Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) gave the code behind its AllJoyn framework to the Linux Foundation. In turn, the Linux Foundation created the new AllSeen Alliance that is using AllJoyn to develop a new interoperable standard for connecting devices and objects to the Internet. In February, AT&T's Digital Life home automation and security service joined the alliance. However, so far the alliance seems less focused on the "industrial Internet" and more on connecting consumer appliances and gadgets within homes and letting them talk to each other seamlessly.
The IIC is also introducing yet another Internet of Things buzzword to the conversation, "cyberphysical." The group's press release notes that the federal government is investing over $100 million per year in research and development related to cyberphysical systems, and has been working with the private sector on a series of tests in areas such as healthcare, transportation, smart cities and increasing the security of the electric grid.
For now though, the IIC doesn't have any bold, concrete plans for standards work or new products. In hoping to attract other members, the behemoths behind the IIC said the group will give them "an immediate, visible platform for their opinions," and that consortium members "will join in developing critical relationships with leaders in technology, manufacturing, academia and the government on working committees." The IIC will be managed by Object Management Group (OMG), a non-profit trade association based in Boston.
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