Exclusive Interview: The Allseen Alliance and the Internet of Everything

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Last week The Linux Foundation announced the formation of the ‘AllSeen Alliance’, a new cross-industry consortium that aims to drive adoption and innovation around the Internet of Things.

Amongst the list the of 23 member companies at its launch are some industry big hitters including Cisco, HTC, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Qualcomm, and Sharp.

The initial framework is based on the AllJoyn open source project which Qualcomm has contributed to the Alliance.  The code can be used to communicate over various transport layers, including Wi-Fi, power line and Ethernet.  The group describes the system as “transport, OS, platform and brand agnostic” and the protocol will allow disparate systems to discover, connect and interact directly with each other.

We asked Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, for some more information on the Allseen Alliance.

Hi Jim. We wrote this Smart Home Utopia post six years ago.  While many feel this will never happen, we’ve always believed it can. Tell us, is the AllSeen Alliance the beginning of our Smart Home Utopia at last?

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We think so. Unlike previous efforts by individual companies or small groups of manufacturers, the AllSeen Alliance represents unprecedented involvement across the industry to solve the major challenge facing the Internet of Things — interoperability. With 23 members right off the bat, the AllSeen Alliance is the largest cross-industry initiative to date to advance the Internet of Things. A neutral party is needed to bring about such a pan-industry, collaborative effort, which is why the Linux Foundation is hosting the alliance as a Collaborative Project.

The ability to discover, connect and work together regardless of the operating system, manufacturer or brand will enable a simple, seamless and universal experience in the home… and in businesses too.

It’s also important to note that we have code available today – it’s available to anyone and can be adopted freely. You can download the framework at allseenalliance.org

 

How did the AllSeen Alliance come about?

The Linux Foundation received a number of inquiries this year about how to accelerate the work needed to advance interoperability among devices, systems and service for the Internet of Things. That started to bring companies together for discussions over the summer and the collaboration grew from there.

 

 

The AllJoyn open source framework will form the bases of your systems code for now. How will the open source community work along side the commercial entities involved in the alliance?

The AllSeen Alliance is a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project, which means it’s governed by its members through participation on a board and a technical steering committee in keeping with open source best practices. Membership in the project is open to all with multiple levels of participation. As an open source project, anyone can contribute.

 

How will you license your code and will there be any membership fees or certifications required for companies to join?

The free ISC license was chosen by the members for the AllSeen Alliance. It enables easy engagement with developer communities and is expected to drive widespread adoption and reuse of the code. Companies can join by filling out a membership application and agreement. The fees range between $5,000 for community organizations (fees vary per size of organization) and $300,000 a year for Premier membership during the first year. For more information about the fee ranges, please contact membership@allseenalliance.org.

 

 

Will individuals be able to build the technology into their own home automation projects to integrate their systems?

The code is available to anyone, so that’s true.  Also, anyone can contribute to the code base — they just have to create an account on GitHub and begin.

 

Can the Alliance entice more industry leading companies to join its ranks and capitalise on the launch momentum? Can you name any firms you’re in discussions with?

We’re talking to many companies. We’re off to a great start, and we expect a lot more companies to join and/or contribute in the coming months and years.

 

Embedded Linux is in so many products today. What other industries outside of the smart home can this technology enhance?

Embedded Linux is really very pervasive across most industries, it’s difficult to choose one industry in particular. The industrial and enterprise markets, as well as healthcare, retail and automotive are all examples. I’ll elaborate here a bit on healthcare, as it’s an interesting example. Many hospitals and health systems have started to provide cloud access to patient data, enabling them to track their medical records securely online. But sometimes the most useful real-time data – like from implantable insulin pumps, heart and blood pressure monitors — is the most difficult to get into the cloud, simply because medical devices typically have basic user interfaces. So data collection is relegated to office visits. Imagine, though, if devices without keyboards or screens can effortlessly join a user’s wireless network and begin communicating right away.

 

Can you describe some other scenarios of how the group envisions systems could interoperate in the future?

Sure. Here are some examples.

Audio: Most consumers mix and match audio output components from different manufacturers. They also store music on a variety of local devices and in the cloud, and access it through a wide range of discovery and playback apps. These combinations make playing music to a set of wireless speakers much more complicated than it appears. Now, consumers will be able to enjoy a consistent user experience that makes it easy to discover, onboard, and play music through compatible nearby speakers, and even through multiple speakers at the same time.

Allseen Alliance

Multimedia: Say a family brings home a new smart TV. Within minutes of turning it on, they are quickly and securely casting videos from their phones and tablets onto the screen, until the oven sends a reminder to every device that dinner is ready.

Connected Home: Three minutes after the final time you hit snooze on your alarm, your coffee begins brewing. When you go downstairs, the TV and speakers turn on in the kitchen to the right channel at the right volume. When you leave the house, everything shuts off, and the thermostat is set to the optimal energy-saving temperature. During the day a package arrives, so you create a temporary entry code for the garage door that allows the delivery person to enter exactly one time. By the time you are home, the house has returned to a comfortable temperature, and the oven you pre-heated from work is already warm. Later that night, when you turn the TV on, it automatically dims the lights to an optimal level. When you go to bed, a single button shuts off all lights you may have forgotten.

Automotive: Within a mile of home, your car can turn on the lights and heat. You don’t even need to press the garage door opener anymore – the garage door knows the car is near.

Energy: If a house can easily detect when no one is home… and learns from daily patterns when HVAC systems and hot water heaters can enter an energy saving state, homeowners can save a bundle of money.

 

 

Many thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Where should people visit to keep in touch with the project?

Thank you. Here’s the Alliance’s website:   Twitter: @AllSeenAlliance #AllSeen.  And here’s a blog by Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin about the Alliance’s formation:

allseenalliance.org   :   Our Smart Home Utopia

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