Partners for the Internet of Everything
Early this year, the EnOcean Alliance became a member of the AllSeen Alliance to join forces for an Internet of Everything (IoE). This connects the established EnOcean ecosystem to the open source AllSeen Alliance community. We spoke with Philip DesAutels, Senior Director of AllSeen Alliance, and Graham Martin, Chairman of EnOcean Alliance, about the future scope of collaboration.
The AllSeen Alliance sees great traction and interest on its path forming the Internet of Everything. What is the fascination about an IoE?
Philip DesAutels: The Internet of Everything will transform the way consumers, businesses, industries use technology. Since intelligence is everywhere, people will increasingly be surrounded by information that senses and anticipates their needs. When the Internet of Everything is fully realized, no one will wonder how it works – it just does. New products, services, companies, markets and industries will be born. The Internet of Everything promises to significantly change the way we live, work, learn, play, and relate to the world and each other.
Which approach does AllSeen follow to realize an IoE – in other words, the key differentiator, which will make the world adopt the AllSeen standard for the IoE?
Philip DesAutels: The AllSeen Alliance is hosted in a neutral forum under The Linux Foundation as a Collaborative Project. The Linux Foundation provides the essential collaborative and organizational framework so that the AllSeen Alliance can focus on IoE innovation and the AllJoyn open source project.
The AllSeen Alliance community was built to be an open source project from the ground up. Rather than having an organization that spends a lot of time debating specs and writing hundreds of pages of docs, the AllSeen Alliance members instead focus on what contributions of code they want to make to advance the protocol. Companies who have ideas for new service frameworks or new interfaces simply propose those and the output of our Alliance is actual implementation (not just specs). This enables us to run at a faster speed to the ever evolving IoE.
What are the major challenges?
Philip DesAutels: Interoperability is among all the “things” that make up the Internet of Everything ecosystem. Right now, the industry is facing a major challenge to achieving interoperability: duplication of effort and technology. The issues impeding interoperability are largely due to proprietary business models. There have been attempts at better interoperability among devices in homes, but the execution has been limited because only the individual vendor’s devices communicate with each other. That may be fine for vendors’ smart phones, tablets and TVs, but how do you bring in other things such as refrigerators, coffee pots or home security systems? The AllSeen Alliance is the first real, large-scale attempt for companies to develop a truly interoperable solution via the open source software model.
The EnOcean Alliance is an AllSeen Alliance member for some months now. What is the partnership about?
Graham Martin: The cooperation of AllSeen Alliance and EnOcean Alliance aims to connect the EnOcean standard with the open AllJoyn framework. This framework brings together all needed communication standards and levels in an IoE: energy harvesting wireless sensors to collect the needed data, control units to process the information, a supervisory system for intelligent networking and the app for a user-friendly handling. The fundamental technologies for an Internet of Everything already exist today. It’s the collaboration of all involved players, technologies and standards under the umbrella of the AllSeen Alliance to realize a seamless communication.
What role does wireless building automation play in an IoE?
Graham Martin: Building automation is a role model for the IoE. In building automation systems, it is very common that different standards communicate with each other to offer the most suitable solution. Here, a deep connection of standards and interoperable devices from different vendors already enable intelligent, self-learning automated systems. That’s why smart buildings can be seen as integral part of the IoE.
Why is it so important to connect different standards?
Graham Martin: For the IoE framework it is inevitable that technology standards work together. Obviously, no single standard alone can cover all the thousands of different applications we see today and in the future. A battery-less sensor offers the needed flexibility to collect data but it cannot communicate via energy-hungry protocols like WiFi. However, it doesn’t need to. It can transmit telegrams using the ultra-low power EnOcean standard and gets access to IPv6, for example, via gateways.
Philip DesAutels: As an industry, we need to drive more interoperability and less fragmentation. The technology industry today – from the consumer electronics market to the enterprise – needs a shared framework that allows devices and systems to connect with each other regardless of manufacturer or OS. An open source software framework like AllJoyn promises to do just this. Once realized, consumers and businesses alike will have a simple, seamless experience in connecting and interacting with devices, systems and services regardless of brand or manufacturer.