Embedded Computing’s Brandon Lewis recently interviewed Sarva Thulasingam, CTO at Infiswift, about the potential of an agnostic common data format that could circumvent IoT interop issues up and down the OSI stack. This article addresses many topics that are currently under discussion and development within the IPSO Alliance.

We believe that interoperability in IoT will be addressed differently at different layers. For example, at the physical layer, if one device uses ZigBee and another uses Bluetooth, there needs to be some sort of bridge that allows them to interoperate with each other. Similarly at the protocol layer, a device that uses MQTT and another that uses HTTP can interoperate through the use of protocol adapters.

Different standard bodies have done a significant amount of work to standardize protocols and simplify implementations, and as a result you keep seeing new protocols being developed, with MQTT as a perfect example. Existing protocols are also being combined in new ways, with lightweight protocols being defined.

In addition to all of these bridges and adapters at the communication layers, we also need application layer interoperability. For instance, how do we ensure that a sensor from a particular manufacturer talks to a device gateway from another vendor, and eventually through the gateway to a cloud backend that’s operated by yet another vendor? To me, at the application layer, interoperability is not yet mature. Work on data formats especially has not seen the same level of consistency throughout the various standardization groups.

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