Cisco, Acer, MediaTek Join Intel, Dell on IoT Standards Group

More than two dozen companies join the OIC, while another IoT consortium, the Thread Group, opens up to new members.

Internet of things

Cisco Systems, Acer and MediaTek are among the more than two dozen tech vendors and system makers that are joining the Open Interconnect Consortium, a group launched in July with the goal of creating an open specification for interoperability in the Internet of things.

The new companies on Oct. 2 joined founding members Dell, Intel, Samsung, Amtel and Wind River in the Open Interconnect Consortium (IOC), one of several industry groups working to drive interoperability to enable the tens of billions of smart devices expected by the end of the decade to communicate with each other. The OIC's news of the new members came a day after another of those consortiums, the Thread Group, announced it is now accepting members.

The Thread Group also was launched in July by the likes of ARM, Samsung, Freescale and Google's Nest Labs business, with the goal of developing and establishing Thread as an IP wireless networking protocol for connecting a range of smart home appliances and devices to the Internet and each other.

Other groups include the AllSeen Alliance—which is based on the AllJoyn standard that was developed by Qualcomm engineers—and the Industrial Internet Consortium, which is more focused on smart business machines in the Internet of things (IoT).

The IoT envisions huge numbers of smart devices and systems connected to the Internet and each other, communicating and sending data that can be analyzed and leveraged for smarter business decisions. By 2020, the number of connected devices worldwide will hit 26 billion, according to Gartner analysts, though Cisco Systems officials expect that number of reach 50 billion. IDC analysts say the IoT market could hit $7.1 trillion by 2020.

Connectivity and interoperability between these devices will be increasingly important as the IoT ramps up. Collaboration among a broad array of industry players will be key to making this happen, according to Jong-Deok Choi, executive vice president and deputy head of Samsung's Software R&D Center and newly elected president of the OIC.

"Our leadership and growing membership will create a single standard to solve connectivity and interoperability challenges in order to support the billions of connected devices coming online," he said in a statement.

In addition to Acer, Cisco and MediaTek, other new members include ActnerLab, Allion, Aepona, Cryptosoft, Eyeball Networks, Global Channel Resource, Gluu, IIOT Foundation, InFocus, Laplink Software, Mashery, McAfee, Metago, NewAer, Nitero, OSS Nokalva, Realtek Semiconductor, Remo Software, Roost, SmartThings, Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Thug Design, VMC and Zula.

The Thread Group on Oct. 1 began accepting membership applications. Along with ARM, Samsung, Freescale and Nest Labs, other founding members include Yale Security, Big Ass Fans and Silicon Labs.

Thread is designed to be a low-power, resilient and open specification to enable others to easily design and build devices that can use it, according to officials. It's built on the existing 802.15.4 standard, supports IPv6 and offers such security features as encryption. It's also scalable: Users will be able to easily connect more than 250 devices to a low-power, IP-based wireless mesh network, while also offering direct Internet and cloud access for every device.

According to Thread officials, there already are millions of wireless devices on the market that support 802.15.4. They can run Thread now via a software enhancement, they said. Already, thousands of companies have expressed interest in Thread, according to Chris Boross, president of the Thread Group and technical product manager for Nest Labs.

"Thread enables products in the home to securely communicate with one another in ways that were not possible before," Boross said in a statement.

The group will make technical documentation for Thread available to member companies in November.