The AllSeen Alliance, one of several industry groups that want to make it easier for devices that make up the Internet of things to more easily connect and communicate, is introducing technology that will enable interoperability between a broader range of systems and networks.
AllSeen launched in late 2013 with the goal of creating a software framework based on the AllJoyn code that enable connected devices and applications in the Internet of things (IoT) to communicate with each other regardless of the brand. There are a number of other groups—such as the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) and the Thread Group—that are pushing similar efforts based on other specifications.
The consortium on June 30 unveiled the AllJoyn Device System Bridge (DSB), which officials are calling a "superconnector" that will enable devices that use interfaces other than AllJoyn to bridge into the AllJoyn ecosystem. The open-source DSB code—which Microsoft contributed to AllJoyn—essentially creates a virtual version of the devices on the AllJoyn system, according to group officials.
"Millions of connected devices exist," Jason Farmer, a contributor to AllSeen's Alliance Gateway Working Group and lead program manager at Microsoft, said in a statement. "We see significant savings for companies that bridge existing automation systems and devices to leverage their existing infrastructure and put it to work in IoT."
The IoT is expected to grow rapidly over the next several years. Cisco Systems officials are predicting that the number of connected devices and systems—from cars and home appliances to sensors, industrial systems, surveillance camera and medical devices—will jump from 25 billion worldwide last year to more than 50 billion by 2020. A recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute said the economic impact of the Internet of things could hit $11.1 billion by 2025, and that interoperability between IoT systems will be crucial to its growth.
Over the past couple of years, several consortiums have launched with improving interoperability as their primary goals. AllSeen, whose 160 members include Qualcomm, Lenovo, LG Electronics, Symantec, Sony and Panasonic, is building its framework atop the AllJoyn code, which was initially developed by Qualcomm engineers, who contributed it to the group.
The OIC, which includes Intel, Dell and Samsung among its founding members and—like the AllSeen Alliance—is a project within the Linux Foundation, in January launched the initial version IoTivity spec. Consortium officials at the time said the software framework will be used to implement IoT standards the OIC is developing.
Other consortiums developing specifications for IoT interoperability include the Thread Group and ZigBee Alliance.
AllSeen officials said the AllJoyn DSB enables companies to extend existing IoT interfaces into AllJoyn as a common language for applications. As an example, they said that developers can connect BACnet-based devices or Z-Wave smart home appliances to AllJoyn-enabled devices either locally or remotely. Features include an adapter for creating and manage a virtual device, a bridge that creates an application attachment for each devices with security settings, and configuration capabilities to allow AllJoyn and non-AllJoyn devices to interact.
The new superconnector is designed to complement the AllJoyn Gateway Agent, which AllSeen announced in January. The technology is an extension of the AllJoyn software framework that enables AllJoyn devices in a local network to connect to external networks and that delivers remote access and device management through the cloud.