IoT groups combine efforts in emerging fragmented market

November 30, 2015 //By Rick Merritt, EE Times
The Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) will acquire assets of and combine its technologies with those of the Universal Plug and Play Forum (UPnP), a fifteen-year old group focused on automating links between PCs and peripherals typically over Wi-Fi. By adopting the UPnP’s widely used service discovery software and likely many of its members, OIC will bolster its position as an applications-layer software stack for the Internet of Things.

All sides agree the IoT is encumbered with too many competing and overlapping platforms, networks, protocols and frameworks as the result of a land grab for what is seen as the next big thing. With the deal, OIC gets an edge over its closest rival, the AllSeen Alliance. However it’s not clear whether it gets the heft it will need to stand out against the two giants in this space — Google’s Thread/Weave and Apple’s HomeKit.

Proponents of AllSeen’s AllJoyn technology have been promoting the idea of a merger with OIC. Such a move is unlikely now that OIC is adopting UPnP’s service-discovery approach which is already widely adopted and functionally similar to the AllJoyn technology.

Currently, AllSeen has a lead in the market with more than 185 members and shipping products using its specifications. OIC, which has about 100 members, expects first products using its recently ratified spec to appear at CES in January. Both OIC and AllSeen are hosted by the Linux Foundation.

The UPnP deal promises to double OIC’s list of 100 members. UPnP has more than 1,000 members, but about 840 of them are at a basic level that pays no dues, something OIC does not support. UPnP members will be able to choose whether or not they will join OIC.

The asset transfer will be concluded by the end of the year. “We expect new OIC membership announcements through the first quarter as people review the OIC membership agreements,” said Richmond.

Perhaps even more importantly, UPnP gives OIC a base of software already used in “billions of devices” ranging from smartphones to TVs, said Richmond. AllJoyn is supported in Windows 10 but so is UPnP, which was originally formed by Microsoft and Intel to automate the process of connecting PCs and peripherals. “Almost every device with AllJoyn also has UPnP,” said Lofgren.

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