IoT Design Considerations: Interoperability

As more manufacturers enable their products for the IoT, consumers will be introduced to many different cloud applications due to lack of cooperation between difference devices and companies. This is where the emerging IoT standards can help. Device manufacturers who support these standards will be able to ensure their products will be able to work and communicate with other manufacturers’ products that support the same protocols. This makes operating many IoT-enabled devices together much more simple and convenient. This also opens up new business opportunities by allowing for new features that the original manufacturers never dreamed of. For example, interoperability means that one day it might be possible for a consumer to simply say, “good night, house” to their home automation app, and the app will programmatically turn-off all of the main house lights, TV’s and appliances and turn on the outside lighting, set the alarm clock for the morning and set the coffee pot to start brewing when the sun rises. In this example, each device could be from a different manufacturer, but since they all support the same standard, the application knows how to talk to them all and create new service offerings.

Some of the emerging interoperability standards include: Thread (supported by the likes of Google/Nest, Samsung and more), HomeKit (supported by Apple), AllJoyn (supported by Microsoft and Sony, part of the AllSeen Alliance), IETF (an internet standards body) and ETSI (a European-based standards organization – primarily in Telecom). The standards landscape is changing rapidly and manufacturers need to adapt their products to work with these standards as they are consolidated and settled in the future.

To download the complete Internet of Things Design Considerations White Paper, click here.

IoT Design Considerations: Network

Manufacturers have many hardware and software options when it comes to network technology for their IoT-enabled products. Some devices can be directly connected to the Internet using networking such as Ethernet and Wi-Fi, which are based on the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP), a set of communications protocols providing end-to-end connectivity. Other products may use wireless technologies; some of which include TCP/IP, but will require a “gateway,” or a “hub” to convert the chosen network to either Ethernet or Wi-Fi, such as ZigBee or Z-Wave. Some of the many technologies available include:

  • Ethernet
  • Wi-Fi
  • IPv6 over Low Power Wireless Personal Area Networks (6LoWPAN)
  • ZigBee
  • Z-Wave
  • Bluetooth
  • Bluetooth Smart e.g. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Bluetooth (BT) 4.0, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Cellular

To download the complete Internet of Things Design Considerations White Paper, click here.

HomeKit: the new standard for interoperability

Many of the standard protocols for the Internet of Things suffer from the significant fault that they are unable to connect devices from separate manufacturers in a coherent way. It is a struggle to get certain products from different brands to interact in the way that a smart home, by definition, should work.

Consumers must either buy all their products from a single source, (infuriating, considering the number of companies and their segmented portions of the market) or purchase a hub that can “talk” to all the devices at once. But then there is Apple HomeKit. Instead of acting as a multi-lingual hub, the new protocol translates all the languages into a uniform dialect for the benefit of interoperability, with much more application potential.

Learn more about the IoT benefits of Apple HomeKit here: http://zatznotfunny.com/2015-06/meet-homekit-the-hubless-hub/

CES 2015: Grid Connect's Biggest Takeaways about the Smart Home Space

A few members of the Grid Connect and ConnectSense teams were excited to attend CES this year. While a lot of time was spent in the booth demoing the ConnectSense Smart Outlet, we were able to stretch our legs and explore many other CES exhibits as well. Home automation was a big aspect of the show this year and we were definitely proud to be contributing to it. 

Now that it's been a week since we've returned to the office and had some time to reflect, here are some takeaways we gathered from the Smart Home section of the show...

"Home automation was the belle of the ball at CES 2015. There were a lot of new and exciting products.  I feel like 2015 will be the year that home automation comes into focus and goes mainstream.  The winners in this market are going to be those who focus and build best in class devices that interoperate with other companies devices through standards like HomeKit, AllSeen, OIC, Thread and others. The losers in this market will be those that try to do it all themselves and build every device under the sun on their system. In the end, what is good for consumers is good for this market. Companies that keep that in mind will do well."

- Adam Justice, Vice President of Grid Connect and Founder of ConnectSense

"Wow!  As always, the CES was an amazing event. We saw companies in the home automation space introducing products to broaden their product line, while others jumped in where they hadn’t played before.  There seems to be more and more devices every time I check Gizmodo or Mashable. Unfortunately, a lot of them are the same ol’ same ol’…innovation wins with me every time!

The big question is, what company will win the platform war? Are you developing your own ecosystem of devices 'on an island' of their own? Companies need to make sure the applications or the products are upgradable to future standards to take advantage of new features and capabilities. The last thing anyone wants to do is continually replace their devices or systems when new features are enabled."

- John Marchiando, Vice President of Business Development at Grid Connect

"There are a lot of people and companies who want to be involved. Many devices are similar to each other so companies must separate themselves from their competition through the features and benefits of their products. They must also make sure to deliver on their promises about the capabilities of each device. Consumers are going to have to research different companies and their products to make sure they are finding the right devices for their needs and ideally, compatible with other home automation products they have now or will have in the future.

As a consumer, my biggest takeaway was that any product I buy needs to be worth the price tag. If the features and benefits are not up to par, or if it just plain doesn't work, it's not going to be in my house."

- Brittney Borowicz, Marketing Manager at Grid Connect

And on the first time exhibiting at CES...

"As a first timer, the CES show is massive. The investment of the big companies like Intel, Samsung, LG are unbelievable. Our booth was in the Innovation area, which was fun to see all the different types of companies that were doing cool things. Our new Smart Outlet was well received and demoing it with Siri is a cool feature.  We will be back at CES next year, in the Smart Home section of the show."

- Mike Justice, President and CEO of Grid Connect

What was your biggest takeaway about the smart home from CES 2015?