Evidence of the explosive growth of the Internet of Things is all around us. In our homes, vehicles, and workplaces, connected devices assist us with daily tasks and generally make our lives easier. But unlocking the full potential of the Internet of Things presents several challenges that the Open Connectivity Foundation is working to address.
Rami Alshafi, technical marketing engineer with OCF, and Thiago Macieira, software architect with Intel, discussed these challenges and how OCF is addressing them at the Embedded Linux Conference and OpenIoT Summit on March 12-14 in Portland. The event was well-attended by system architects and developers working in the booming IoT ecosystem, and was designed to provide them with the information required to lead successful IoT developments.
The challenge – interoperability
The OCF presentation, titled Open Connectivity for IoT, outlined how interoperability – ensuring devices can connect securely and reliably to both the internet and each other – is the biggest challenge facing IoT adoption. The number of connected devices is expected to reach between 30 and 50 billion by 2020, and McKinsey & Company predicts the economic impact of these devices could reach up to $11 trillion per year by 2025. In addition, the cost of IoT connectivity is decreasing. But nearly 47 percent, or $5.2 trillion, of the market potential of IoT remains locked by a lack of interoperability.
For example, in some smart home environments, one application controls the security system, another controls the thermostat, while another operates the entertainment center, and so on. In many cases, these systems are proprietary and don’t interoperate. Among other things, this fragmentation of IoT standards locks consumers into an ecosystem where they become dependent on one vendor to meet their smart home needs. The exponential growth of the Internet of things presents the need for vendor-neutral, seamless connectivity for these billions of devices.
IoTivity and IoTivity Lite – working toward a solution
Industry wide collaboration and open-source availability are the keys to unlocking the massive opportunity of the Internet of Things. This knowledge led to IoTivity and IoTivity Lite, both OCF-sponsored and Linux Foundation-hosted collaborative open source projects. Together, they serve as one of the three pillars of OCF, alongside the OCF Specification and Certification program. At its core, IoTivity is an open-source software framework that enables seamless device-to-device connectivity for emerging IoT devices. For OCF members developing IoT solutions, it offers several advantages. The OCF mandatory features are already built into the software, and it includes IP protection and is royalty-free. It also allows for the use of multiple programming languages and can run on a wide number of operating systems. IoTivity Lite is best used for devices that don’t need full features or to select the ones that are right for products – such as light bulbs.
OCF also recently released a developer kit that works in conjunction with IoTivity. This kit allows developers to set up an IoTivity development environment using a Raspberry Pi 3 board. It is very easy to use and provides a concrete example of how to make a secure, interoperable, functional and certifiable application.
Through its industry-wide collaboration and strategic partnerships with other consortia and standards bodies in the IoT space, OCF is bringing together “best-of-breed” technologies and represents an industry coalescing around previously separate efforts.
To learn more about IoTivity architecture and features, or to get involved with the IoTivity project, visit: https://www.iotivity.org/