Top hardware firms join forces on IoT standards

Top hardware firms join forces to establish secure and reliable connectivity standards for the internet of things

Several top hardware firms have joined forces to establish secure and reliable connectivity standards for the billions of devices expected to make up the internet of things (IoT).

The Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) comprises Dell, Intel, Samsung, Amtel, Broadcom and Wind River, and is aimed at accelerating the development of the IoT.

Analyst group IDC predicts the installed base of the IoT will be around 212 billion devices globally by the end of 2020.

The OIC is focused on defining a common communications framework based on industry standard technologies to connect and manage the flow of information across IoT devices.

The goal is to design of products that intelligently, reliably and securely manage and exchange information under changing conditions, the group said in a statement.

"Open source is about collaboration and choice,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation.

“The Open Interconnect Consortium is yet another proof point how open source helps fuel innovation," he said.

Member companies will contribute software and engineering resources to the development of a protocol specification, open source implementation and a certification programme.

The OIC specification will use existing and emerging wireless standards and be designed to be compatible with a variety of operating systems.

The group hopes to attract participation from a broad range of industry vertical segments.

The first OIC open source code will target the specific requirements of smart devices in the home and enterprise environments.

For example, the specifications could make it simple to control and receive notifications from smart devices in these environments using securely provisioned smartphones, tablets or PCs, the OIC said.

Specifications for additional IoT opportunities including automotive, healthcare and industrial are expected to follow.

Additional member companies including other leading appliance and device manufacturers, service and solution providers, chipset manufacturers and more are expected to join OIC in the coming months.

Security is one of the key objectives of the OIC, with a growing number of security experts expressing concern that, in the rush to get IoT products on the market, security is being overlooked.

In a recent study, researchers at Context Information Sytems discovered security flaws in a range of connected devices, including smart light bulbs, printers and surveillance cameras.

"The rise and ultimate success of the IoT depends on the ability for devices and systems to securely and reliably interconnect and share information," said Doug Fisher, Intel corporate vice-president and general manager of the software and services Group.

"This requires common frameworks, based on truly open, industry standards. Our goal in founding this new consortium is to solve the challenge of interoperable connectivity for the IoT without tying the ecosystem to one company's solution,” he said.

Glen Robson, vice-president and chief technology officer for client solutions at Dell said the explosion of the IoT is a transformation that will have a major impact on ability to do more through technology.

“Having a connectivity framework that is open, secure and manageable is critical to delivering the foundational elements of that transformation," he said.

Samsung said that in the IoT era, every type of device should connect and communicate with each other effortlessly, regardless of who makes the device.

"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," said Jong-deok Choi, executive vice-president and deputy head of software R&D at Samsung.

The OIC is not the first group to support standards for IoC, but unlike other groups publishing standards in this space, the OIC is more focused on security and authentication, reports PC World.

According to the OIC’s website, despite there being multiple forums driving different approaches to solve the challenge of IoT connectivity and interoperability, the group does not see any single effort that addresses all the necessary requirements.

The member companies believe that a “common, interoperable approach is essential, and that both a standard and open source implementation are the best route to enable scale,” the group said.

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention