The Skinny on IoTivity, the New, Open Source IoT Framework


IoTivity is an open source framework to connect Internet of Things products.
IoTivity is an open source framework to connect Internet of Things products.

In brief: The Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) introduced a new, open source framework to connect billions of smart devices from a wide variety of vendors. But has the IoT standards horse already left the barn? 

The horse race between competing standards for the burgeoning Internet of Things picked up the pace this week as Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) unveiled IoTivity, an open source project intended to develop a software framework that connections billions of smart devices.

The announcement is just the latest in a crowded field of competing standards designed to tame the confusion of the Internet of Things. On Wednesday, the OIC released a preliminary reference standard for IoTivity. When completed, the platform would connect announced across multiple operating systems and network protocols, the Foundation said.

The framework is part of a full court press by the Linux Foundation and OIC members to develop comprehensive standards for the Internet of Things that will allow products from different vendors to interoperate: sharing information and providing a common management framework.

The lack of interoperability between different product silos is recognized as a major inhibitor to adoption of smart devices for the home and business. While companies like Google have worked to develop interoperable products within their own product suite and among close partners (take Google’s NEST Thermostat and BigAss Fans), there is no broad interoperability between products of different vendors.

IoTivity is described as a “Linux Foundation Collaborative Project.” The Project will be governed by an independent steering group that liaises with the OIC.

“We believe that an open source project combined with the OIC’s standards efforts is critical to driving true interoperability for the billions of IoT devices that will be coming online over the next few years,” said Mark Skarpness, Director of Embedded Software in Intel’s Open Source Technology Center, and the chair of the IoTivity Steering Group in a statement. “We are pleased to be working with The Linux Foundation and the open source community to advance the project.”

[Read more Security Ledger coverage of Internet of Things standards here.]

The draft IoTivity Resource Framework (0.9.0) was built using Ubuntu LTS and supports both Linux and Arduino (ATMega 2560 and Arduino Due) devices. It contains features that support connectivity, information exchange and control between devices, device discovery and notifications (aka “active discovery”). There are also features for resource management, sensor management and “thing” management, among others. The IoTivity project is licensed under the Apache License version 2.0 and is eventually expected to be available in a variety of programming languages and support a variety of hardware platforms and operating systems.

The OIC said that a 1.0 standard specification will be available in the coming months. The IoTivity project will release a full open source implementation of that specification. In the meantime, the group is soliciting companies to contribute.

Despite nearly universal recognition within the technology industry that cross-vendor standards are necessary for the full value of the Internet of Things to be realized, efforts to promote such standards have followed a predictable pattern. Large vendors have flocked together with supply chain and business partners to push a variety of similar sounding, but incompatible standards: the OpenInterconnect Consortium and AllJoyn, Google’s THREAD, the AllSeen Alliance, Apple HomeKit, iControl OpenHome and more.

Industry watchers have speculated that the window for any of these technical specifications to become a standard may have already passed. Writing for the Harvard Business Review in November, Thomas Davenport and Sanjay Sarma argue that “the IoT, unfortunately, already has too many standards bodies, and in most of them technology vendors play perhaps too prominent a role.”

Read more on IoTivity via Welcome to the IoTivity project | IoTivity.

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