IoT: Microsoft Joins the Qualcomm-Backed AllSeen Alliance

Microsoft on Tuesday announced that it is joining Qualcomm and 50 other members of the nonprofit AllSeen Alliance to develop standards for an open source Internet of Things and help promote protocols for how smart devices will interact with each other. Meanwhile, competing companies reportedly have plans to unveil a rival standards consortium as early as next week. Current AllSeen Alliance members include major tech players such as Cisco, LG, Panasonic, Sharp and Technicolor.

“Battle lines are being drawn as manufacturers roll out growing numbers of Internet-connected burglar alarms, televisions and baby monitors,” reports Reuters. “But like the early days of video cassette recorders, many of the smart home products being launched are incompatible with each other.”

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Qualcomm and other AllSeen member companies believe that quickly creating standards across connected devices will encourage new products and consumer adoption.

“To that end, Qualcomm led the development of a connection standard called AllJoyn and made it free for other companies to use in their products,” notes the article. “But, like the rivalry between Betamax and VHS video formats over three decades ago, Silicon Valley is far from agreement on what standards should rule.”

Apple recently unveiled its plans for HomeKit, which will integrate control of connected devices in the home. Mercedes-Benz, Whirlpool and LIFX are among those planning to integrate products with thermostats and smoke detectors from Google’s recently acquired Nest Labs.

“All these things need a standard,” said Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon. “Nobody wants to buy a TV and have to make sure their speakers are compliant.”

“Microsoft believes that the Internet of Things is not a futuristic notion but is here today in the devices, sensors and cloud infrastructure all around us,” said Kevin Dallas, GM of Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group, in a press release. “But in order to make the Internet of Things truly successful, there are challenges to be addressed in securely connecting and managing all these devices and interacting with cloud services and machine-generated data.”