Samsung, Dell and Intel are among the first companies to join the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), which has been set up to improve interoperability and define the connectivity requirements for the billions of devices that will make up the so-called 'internet of things' (IoT). Member companies will contribute software and engineering resources to the project, which will consider interconnected wearable devices, home and industrial appliances as well as PCs, smartphones and tablets.
"In the internet of things era, everything – from PCs, smartphones and tablets to home and industrial appliances and new wearable form factors – should effortlessly connect and communicate with each other, regardless of who makes the device," said Jong-deok Choi, a software expert at Samsung. "We invite other industry leaders, whatever their background and vertical specialism, to join us in defining and embracing a common communications framework for the Internet of Things."
The IoT concept refers to the increasing ability of everyday physical objects to connect to the internet and identify themselves to other devices. Unique identifiers and tags could also be used in the future to connect people and animals to the network, for example through the use of a heart monitor implant or identifying microchip. Currently, the concept is most commonly associated with machine-to-machine communication, an example being the 'smart meters' that can give homeowners real-time information about their energy use.
According to the project's website, the OIC's goal is to establish a single interoperability solution that will work across multiple applications, platforms and operating systems. Its final specifications are expected to use existing and emerging standards, including wi-fi and Bluetooth. The work will include the creation of a protocol specification, open source implementation and a certification programme, according to the announcement.
Its initial work will focus on devices used in the smart home, office and automotive fields, although it will later look at more specialist applications such as industrial and healthcare. Once ready, the specifications could be used to allow securely-provisioned smartphones, tablets or PCs to remotely control and receive notifications for household appliances or enterprise devices. In the office environment, OIC anticipates the new standards being used to allow employers and visiting suppliers to screen-share securely in a meeting room.
Although the OIC is not the first body to address standard specifications for interoperability across connected devices, the consortium said there was not yet "one single effort that addresses all the necessary requirements".
"The companies involved in OIC believe that secure and reliable device discovery and connectivity is a foundational capability to enable IoT," it said. "The companies also believe that a common, interoperable approach is essential, and that both a standard and open source implementation are the best route to enable scale."