In a move aimed at speeding the progress of interoperability as part of the Internet of things, Panasonic is opening up much of its long-held intellectual property so that other companies can build on its ideas and to help encourage idea-sharing and long-term IoT development.
Panasonic, which is adopting the model of the open-source software movement by providing royalty-free access to software, patents and experience from its product lines to other companies and developers, announced its new strategy at the Embedded Linux Conference in San Jose, Calif., according to a statement by the company.
Panasonic said it is also moving to increase its intellectual property contributions to the AllSeen Alliance, which is a cross-industry, nonprofit open-source consortium.
Todd Rytting, chief technology officer for Panasonic Corp. of North America, told eWEEK in an interview that the move toward open source for much of its intellectual property will ultimately be a boon for the company because it will encourage innovation and shared benefits.
"Business partners are always asking for more features," said Rytting. "Being open is an absolute requirement most of the time. When IP is open to more than one company at a time, it's a real advantage because then you can have it reviewed by more people who have more experiences" to produce the best innovations, he said.
The move will further enable Panasonic's business growth and deepen partnerships with third-party suppliers and others, he said.
Much of Panasonic's work in technology has been around for more than 20 years, he said, so while the term "Internet of things" may be fairly new, the ideas behind it are part of the company's long background in consumer and business-to-business technology, said Rytting.
Under the new project, Panasonic will make available mature and tested device-to-cloud software technology that is used today in home monitoring systems, solar energy and retail applications, according to the company. By increasing interoperability and security, the Panasonic initiative is expected to spur development and introduction of IoT products and connected devices by companies, universities and individuals.
"We are excited to contribute some of our technology and expertise to the effort already underway at the AllSeen Alliance," Rytting said in a statement. "We hope our IoT initiative will inspire other global companies to contribute intellectual property and ideas to making networks work together through this alliance."
Panasonic has already shared some of its intellectual property, such as releasing key patents to the public domain to help further development of the radio industry, according to the company.
Panasonic is on the board of the AllSeen Alliance, which works to promote the widespread adoption of products, systems and services that support IoT with an open, universal development framework. The AllSeen Alliance is a collaborative project at The Linux Foundation, with which Panasonic is already involved as a Gold member. The Linux Foundation is a nonprofit consortium that works to foster the growth of Linux and collaborative software development.
"As a well-respected member of the Alliance with deep experience in the IoT market, Panasonic is making a strong statement with this announcement," Philip DesAutels, Ph.D., the senior director for IoT at the AllSeen Alliance, said in a statement. "The power of IoT comes from the scale of the network of interconnecting things. The more things that seamlessly connect using open protocols, the more individuals, businesses and communities can do. With this announcement Panasonic is extending the reach and power of AllJoyn to deliver an Internet of Everything."
Under Panasonic's plan, it will contribute its device-to-cloud software open source code to OpenDOF Project Inc. The work by the project will target collecting data from devices such as sensors, as well as working with remote control of devices.