As we the new fiscal year begins, it is time to look at how the industry is doing in developing the Internet of Things and what can be done to accelerate its adoption. Numerous companies have introduced IoT enabled lighting products in the past year.
One of the biggest impediments to IoT adoption now is not the lack of standards for integrating and working with different types of devices, it is the lack of adoption of standards that are already available.
Some improved standards still need to be devised
Numerous companies have proprietary communication protocols in the lighting control realm. Then, programmers have to come up with translators that convert from one protocol to another. This is not a long-term solution. A universal standard is needed that can communicate with any type of compatible device. To some extent this is already being done, but it could be done better.
Additionally, a universal standard is needed for the hardware to be physically compatible. lighting systems should have plug-in spaces for multiple sensors regardless of the type of sensor. This is the goal of the IoT-Ready Alliance, which we previously covered.
Also, as controlled and monitored lighting becomes more common, a new standard should be created to clarify, when, where, and how energy usage is reported. This goes for both Wi-Fi connected devices and Power over Ethernet connected lights (Ref: Coverage).
Security for connected lighting and IoT should also be more standardized with open standards that allow companies to freely adopt them while creating new connected lighting and other IoT related products.
While some efforts have been made in all of these mentioned areas to create standards, such standards do no good if no one agrees to adopt them. That is where alliances and consortiums can come in, to bridge the gap between creating a standard and having someone adopt it.
Several IoT related alliances and consortiums already exist:
The Open Connectivity Foundation is industry group whose mission is to devise specification standards, support a set of interoperability guidelines, and implement a certification program for devices related to the Internet of Things (IoT).
The Thread Group is devising a networking protocol with IPv6. Thread will be mesh-based protocol that will use 802.15.4 radios. The aim of the group’s protocol is to enable home-based IoT-equipped devices of all kinds to discover and network with each other.
The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC): As the moniker suggests, this group creates use cases and test beds for real world applications for use on factory floors, assembly lines, shipping docks, etc.
The IEE P2413 group directly addresses the idea that the IoT won’t work if it is too company specific. According to the group, its standard “will promote cross-domain interaction, aid system interoperability and functional compatibility…” The group’s goal is to reduce industry fragmentation with a standardized architectural framework, and to build upon the commonalities between segments of the IoT.
These are just some of the groups outside of the lighting industry that are working to standardize the Internet of Things.