Design Con 2015

Needed: A glue for the Internets of Things

Rick Merritt

August 12, 2013

Rick MerrittAugust 12, 2013

SAN JOSE, Calif. — There is no Internet of Things. There's a lot of hype and PowerPoint about the Internet of Things, but it does not exist -- yet.

Today a couple dozen Networks (plural) of Things are duking it out in as many market sectors. The typical node on one net doesn't know how to talk to nodes on another net unless it was made by the same company and installed by the same person.

You can view this Web page on your iPhone, Android tablet, Windows PC, Macbook, or Linux workstation because the Internet has a common set of standards for creating, transporting, and rendering content such as IP, HTTP, and HTML. These common standards do not exist in the Internet of Things today. Instead there are many fairly complete and incompatible IoT software stacks, from ANT to Zigbee and Z-Wave.

I have talked to a half dozen IoT experts in the past week, and they are all saying the same thing as Levent Gurgen, a researcher at CEA-Leti involved in two big IoT projects with backing from the European Union:

    IoT covers a large number of domains -- smart buildings, home automation, smart cities, and industrial automation systems -- and there are many protocols in each of these environments. There is not one common way of communicating among them. This creates vertical silos of application systems that do not interoperate. This is the main roadblock in IoT today.

His colleagues over in the US. see this problem, too. To address it, they are putting together a consortium, calling it the Industrial Internet, a term favored by GE. Unfortunately they see the framework architecture they intend to develop as a competitive advantage for US companies. So much for Levent Gurgen and his partners in Europe and Japan.

I suppose it's only fair. I am told China has its own national IoT initiative based in Wuxi. I'd love to get details on it.

To read more, go to “An IP-like approach.

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