One of the industry bodies participating in the early and ever-evolving world of standards governing the nascent Internet of Things has made a move to try and spur things along in what is seemingly a more cooperative and less risky way.
The AllSeen Alliance Inc. recently announced new policies governing intellectual property that essentially make it more appealing to adhere to standards without fear of protracted legal battles. The group, which has more than 110 member companies and backs the AllJoyn open source software project, has introduced an intellectual property framework that it feels clearly delineates terms that will facilitate broad adoption and meet interoperability goals. (See Will 2015 Bring IoT Resolution for Operators?)
In short, AllSeen's new IP property is this: Use a compliant base of the AllJoyn code in building products, certify your product, and no one will cry foul. Companies that have contributed to the project have pledged not to assert patents that are required to implement their contribution, as long as developers and device manufacturers follow those compliance and certification steps. In other words, you get a pledge from all contributors that they will not exercise their patents against you.
"The alliance knew up-front that a strong statement about IP and patent protection was important," Philip DesAutels, senior director of IoT for the AllSeen Alliance, tells Light Reading. "The way you get the IP protection is to demonstrate interoperability. The alliance is very mission-driven, and the mission it's driven by is to see a world where billions of devices connect on a common frameworks and create a whole that's bigger than the parts."
The obvious goal of the effort is to get more product and application developers building on the AllJoyn framework by making it easy and worry-free.
"You don't have to go hunt down license agreements, find various IP holders and get them to say yes to your usage," DesAutels says. "Certification is great because you get a certification mark that you can put on the package -- everyone knows your product works with every other products that are AllSeen-certified."
Beyond getting developers and manufacturers aligned with AllSeen is the larger issue of competing standards -- most notably, the one being backed by the Open Interconnect Consortium . DesAutels maintains that the two groups aren't that far apart, and he is hopeful that a compromise can be reached at some point for the benefit of the industry. (See OIC Issues First IoT Framework.)
"From a technical perspective, we're not all that different," he says. "The goals are the same; the approach is different. But we're both solving the same problem in very similar ways. I would like to see all of this come together -- I would like to see one organization looking at this and saying 'let's put together the pieces and parts and frameworks and standards we need to make the Internet of Everything a reality.'"
And for that to be realized, he says, service providers play a critical role because of their networks, but also because of their connection to the mass of consumers.
"Their part is really critical in a couple of different ways," he says. "They're a big channel to consumers, and they have the infrastructure to help regular people -- my dad, my aunts and uncles, my friends who aren't technologies -- use these technologies. They have a great venue for it and the organization and infrastructure in place to be able to support it."
— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, Light Reading