Samsung Group has teamed up with Intel to create the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) as a way of rivaling the AllSeen Alliance, led by the Linux Foundation and Qualcomm. The two rival groups are both attempting to develop open-source software for devices connected to the Internet of Things. The term, often abbreviated as IOT, refers to both everyday objects and electronic devices that are connected to the Internet and to each other.
The formation of the new group comes on the heels of AllSeen’s foundation, which was announced last December. AllSeen has already released its open-source AllJoyn software, which the OIC intends to challenge with its own platform later this year. The newer of the two consortiums has said that it wants to focus on devices in people’s home and offices, such as refrigerators, lights, and thermostats, before transitioning into other areas.
Allseen has over 50 members, including several giants in the technology industry. LG, Sharp and Panasonic have lined up behind the group, while Microsoft joined its ranks last week. Similarly, Samsung Group and Intel have recruited Dell, Broadcom, Atmel and Wind River Systems, with more big names expected to be announced in the near future. Neither of the two groups has established any rules on exclusivity, allowing companies to straddle the divide by joining both factions.
According to New York Times Deputy Technology Editor Quentin Hardy, the decision by Samsung Group and Intel to create a consortium that would rival Qualcomm’s AllSeen Alliance stemmed from a lack of trust. He cited anonymous OIC insiders who claimed that many companies believed Qualcomm would not fully give up its intellectual property. People were also uneasy with the fact that a Qualcomm subsidiary is the official member of AllSeen, not the actual parent company.
Analysts expect the Internet of Things to comprise 212 billion devices within six years. According to Cisco Systems, the IOT will lay claim to 2 percent of Web traffic by 2018. The list of compatible devices will include personal computers, smartphones, tablet computers and an array of wearable technological devices, as well as many different home appliances such as thermostats and light fixtures.
However, other more unconventional items may also find themselves with digital hook-ups. Futuristic shirts created by Intel use embedded sensors to track a user’s vital signs, while the smart cup Vessyl can recognize any beverage poured into it. It is also capable of determining the beverage’s nutritional information and tracking statistics such as how much caffeine a user has consumed in a day.
There is a downside to the idea of integrating the myriad of appliances with the Internet, warned Forbes contributor Amadou Diallo in an article published on Wednesday. Being forced to remember what could amount to dozens of passwords could prove problematic for those looking to adopt a lifestyle more in line with the Internet of Things. The real issue, however, remains the problem of security. The luxury of having refrigerators that automatically order groceries or lights that turn on when a user enters the house is not worthwhile if the cost is compromised user data, Diallo opined. He concluded by declaring that companies, and not consumers, should be responsible for the safety of users’ data.
There is no doubt that the Internet of Things market will grow substantially over time, although exact details such as security parameters remain unknown. Equally uncertain is the fate of the newly created rivalry between Qualcomm’s AllSeen Alliance and the consortium led by Samsung Group and Intel.
By Yitzchak Besser