Design Con 2015

Alliance proposes dubious Internet Of Everything framework

December 11, 2013

Bernard Cole-December 11, 2013

Under the sponsorship of the Linux Foundation, a group of mostly hardware and end system platform providers have formed the AllSeen Alliance. It is claiming Allseen is the broadest cross-industry consortium to date for the adoption of an “Internet of Everything” framework across homes and industry.

Building on Qualcomm’s Alljoyn development framework, the new alliance hopes to establish a common hardware/software environment that works across various industry specific connected wireless network protocols, despite vast differences in requirements for reliability, security, real time or determinisitic operation or end device characteristics.

Founding members include Haier, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Sharp, Silicon Image and TP-LINK. Community members include Canary, Cisco, D-Link, doubleTwist, Fon, Harman, HTC, Letv, LIFX, Lite-on, Moxtreme, Musaic, Sears Brand Management Corporation, Sproutling, The Sprosty Network, Weaved and Wilocity. There are few embedded hardware/software companies represented, especially those who have been involved developing standards in various segments that such an effort would subsume and make irrelevant.

The “Internet of Everything” dream they are targeting is based on the rather dubious idea that devices, objects and systems can be connected in simple, common and transparent ways to enable seamless sharing of information and coordinated and intelligent operations across all of them, despite considerable differences in the applications environment, real time requirements, hardware and software specifics, and level of user sophistication.

As no single company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the Internet of Everything and address everyday, real-life scenarios, the members that Qualcomm has pulled into this effort believe united, pan-industry effort is needed to deliver new experiences to consumers and businesses.

The initial framework is based on the AllJoyn open source project, which was originally developed by and is being contributed to the Alliance by Qualcomm Innovation Center, Inc. (a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated), and will be expanded with contributions from member companies and the open source community.

The group describes AllJoyn/AllSeen as "a code base of various modular services that enable discovery of adjacent devices, pairing, message routing and security." In keeping with its open source goal, the group will release its work under an ISC license

The code, now available online, runs on versions of Windows, Android, iOS, and various Linux distributions and embedded OSes. In its support of C++ and Java with support for C, C#, JavaScript, and ActionScript  and its dependence on already existing tools and languages that run on multiple platforms, it does not seem significantly different from any any number of open source and proprietary device development environments now available for use by embedded and mobile device developers.

AllSeen is still organizing work groups and their tasks. Despite the fact that there are already widely used industry standards available, most of the initial effort of the work groups will be on such things as device discovery, network access, user notifications, and audio streaming.

The aim of the group is to create a framework in which products, applications and services created with the AllJoyn open source project can communicate over various transport layers, such as Wi-Fi, power line or Ethernet, regardless of manufacturer or operating system and without the need for Internet access. The software runs on popular platforms such as Linux and the Linux-based Android, iOS, and Windows, including embedded variants.

The members of the AllSeen Alliance will contribute software and engineering resources as part of their collaboration on an open software framework that enables hardware manufacturers, service providers and software developers to create interoperable devices and services.

The all-encompassing “Internet of Everything “ open source framework the alliance is seeking has as its aim to enable ad hoc systems to seamlessly discover, dynamically connect and interact with nearby products regardless of brand, transport layer, platform or operating system, again nothing significantly different from other such currently available frameworks.

On the one hand one scenario the group uses to support its claim that such a framework is necessary is that of a family that installs a smart lock built with the framework for their front door will seamlessly be able to connect it to smart lights that also use the framework and security cameras from other manufacturers.

The other supporting scenario is at the other end of the spectrum, factory floors – where evolving environments with systems that need to adjust dynamically – can benefit from the framework’s ability to enable a self-aware network that can constantly learn what new equipment has been added and what capabilities or interfaces that equipment has so that it can immediately begin playing its part in the manufacturing process.

Interestingly, nothing in either scenario is absent from any number of industry and home networking frameworks, except the insistence of the AllSeen effort that both - radically different in their operating requirements - need the same “Internet of Things,” let alone “Internet of Everything” framework.

Embedded.com Site Editor Bernard Cole is also editor of the twice-a-week Embedded.com newsletters as well as a partner in the TechRite Associates editorial services consultancy. He welcomes your feedback. Send an email to bccole@acm.org, or call 928-525-9087.

See more articles and columns like this one on Embedded.com. Sign up for the Embedded.com newsletters. Copyright © 2013 UBM--All rights reserved.

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