The Internet of Things (IoT) is said to be the third and most significant Internet trend to date, promising to connect somewhere between 50 billion (Cisco) and 100 billion (ZTE) previously unconnected devices within five short years. In anticipation of that – and the estimated $19 trillion of anticipated economic market activity that is said to come along with it (Cisco) – global tech companies are jockeying for position to develop the software, chips, operating systems, communication platforms and other standards that will form the backbone of IoT.
An IoT standards movement has been ongoing for some time now, but over the past few weeks full-on IoT standards ‘wars’ have broken out, as Google, Huawei, Samsung and others have begun to aggressively stake their claims:
- “China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [ ] became the latest tech giant to present its own take on the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), centered on an operating system designed to allow household and business appliances to communicate with each other online. At an event in Beijing, Huawei executives showcased its “Agile IoT” architecture, including an operating system called LiteOS to control basic devices. This marks the firm’s most significant push into a sector that has lured heavyweights from Google Inc to Intel Corp and IBM into pushing their own standards and communication protocols.” (Source: Reuters, “Huawei stakes claim in ‘Internet of Things’ market with new operating system,” May 20, 2015).
- “To help all manner of smart devices communicate better with each other, Google is reportedly developing “Brillo,” an operating system for the Internet of Things…A single operating system for smart-home devices could prove very useful for device manufacturers, as something like Brillo could eliminate compatibility issues between various smart-device brands. Consumers could shop confidently, knowing that their Brillo-backed smart toaster will communicate with the Brillo-backed smart lightbulb…” (Source: CNET, “Google reportedly developing ‘Brillo,’ an OS for the Internet of Things,” May 21, 2015).
- “Samsung wants to take a huge slice of the growing Internet of Things pie as it releases a new platform that combines hardware and software to allow developers to build new, connected devices. At the Internet of Things World conference in San Francisco [ ] Samsung Electronics president Young Sohn unveiled the company’s new ARTIK platform, which consists of three separate modules that serve to power all sorts of devices, from small dedicated sensors to wearables and drones to full-blown media hubs.” (Source: TechTimes, “Samsung Unveils ARTIK Platform To Boost Future Of IoT From Wearables, Smart Home, And Industrial Applications,” May 13, 2015).
With so much at stake, the IoT standards wars will only continue to accelerate. In the coming weeks and months we will see more and more companies trying to develop that one OS, that one communication platform or that one chipset, all to be used in the billions of connected devices to follow. For those of us bystanders, the hope is that the winners of these wars will put the security and privacy of device users at (or near) the top of their priority list, so that the IoT of the future does not become the scary landscape that so many IoT naysayers continuously warn of. It seems that time will certainly tell.