In just a year or two, the smart home market erupted with dozens of devices all connected to the Internet. Sometimes, they can connect to each other but only if they spoke the same language. Most of the time, though, they only communicate with those from the same brand, creating dozens of “languages” spoken by smart home devices. A sign of a maturing industry is the creation of a standard that bridges all of these islands together. Perhaps somewhat ironically, we now have at least two different standards for IoT.
Last year, actually just last month, Google revealed that the three big tech companies, namely itself, Apple, and Amazon, were getting together with the Zigbee Alliance to formulate a smart home standard. The goal is to allow devices and protocols from different manufacturers and platforms to communicate with each other. Given many IoT products support these platforms, it’s almost a sure winner to be the smart home standard.
Now just days before CES and before even more connected products get announced, Samsung is reminding the public that one such standards body already exists, the Open Connectivity Foundation or OCF. You’d be forgiven if you haven’t heard much about it and its roster of members include few well-known names aside from Samsung, LG, and Haier. Whether it has more industry cloud than the fledgling Connected Home over IP working group is perhaps still up for debate.
More than just a reminder, though, Samsung is also announcing the creation of the OCF Universal Cloud Interface (UCI). It is more developer-related rather than something for consumers but aims to create an open standard that would let different manufacturer’s cloud servers communicate with each other as well as with devices. It also allows other manufacturers with limited development resources to tap existing cloud applications for themselves.
Now, of course, we have one more standard for the IoT industry competing to become the one standard until another standard comes trying to unify them all. This confusing situation is, of course, on par with the industry where survival of the fittest standard is the norm.