A number of the major players in the technology industry have grouped together to form the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), in the hope of unifying Internet of Things (IoT) standards.
The Foundation already has more than 150 members, including the likes of Microsoft, Samsung, Intel and IBM.
The OCF’s primary goal is to ensure that the billions of IoT devices predicted to enter the market will all be able to seamlessly interact with one another, regardless of their manufacturer or software. Through cross-industry collaboration, the member companies aim to create a single, open IoT interoperability specification that can be used by hobbyist developers and huge tech firm alike.
“We believe in a future where all of the devices in our lives are connected to enable ways of living and working that we can’t even imagine today,” explains Doug Fisher, Intel’s senior vice president and general manager, software and services group. “The only way to unlock the unlimited possibilities for innovation in the Internet of Things is to unify our work with industry peers. This collaboration is an exciting step in that direction.”
Challenges to IoT standardisation
Speaking to Internet of Business, French Caldwell, chief evangelist at MetricStream explained that standardisation is vital if the IoT industry is to meet security and integration challenges.
“Some IoT services may require integration of devices that may be operated by different vendors, with different operating systems, and written in different programming languages,” he said. “Glitches will abound. Also, what about when one vendor pushes out an update or patch, and that creates an incompatibility with other devices in the network. There’s a large potential for inadvertent failures.”
The task facing the Open Connectivity Foundation is, therefore, hugely important but also problematic. Crucially, both Apple and Google are not members, and the former’s HomeKit IoT solution is not open source.
In addition, some industry analysts have questioned whether the formation of the OCF was entirely necessary given that there are existing groups dedicated to IoT standardisation. The Open Interconnect Consortium, itself a precursor to the OCF, launched new developer tools earlier this month to improve standardisation, whilst Google is a member of a separate open source IoT collective known as Thread.