Christian Légaré, President and Chairman, IPSO Alliance and CTO, Micrium

The IoT continues to be at the forefront of the electronics industry’s collective imagination. With predictions of billions of devices involved in every aspect of our lives by 2020, there is clearly promise and opportunity. However, the industry may need to turn the dial back a few notches, since opportunity does not equal readiness. IoT devices will simply require “more” moving forward: They will need more performance, more capability, more memory, more connectivity, more sensors, more security, etc., but with “less”— lower power consumption, lower cost and smaller packages. This is where open-system standards and organizations like the IPSO Alliance come into play, and where they can have the most impact. Open standards and the organizations participating in such efforts work to develop the ideas that will allow the IoT to become a reality; they are able to contribute their collective knowledge to “make it work.” Further, open-system standards offer the only way to achieve the economies of scale required to make the IoT financially possible.

There are numerous open-standards organizations actively engaged in supporting the development of the IoT. Some focus on developing the software to link the IoT, others on enabling interoperability, cloud scalability, etc. For example, the IPSO Alliance historically worked to promote the use of Internet protocol for IoT devices; with that work complete, it has evolved to focus on issues related to device identity and privacy. Important too are formal standards organizations that look to develop and formalize the standards they feel are most needed to ensure the IoT’s success.

So once the open-system standards are defined, will the IoT be full steam ahead? The reality is that open-system standards organizations establish the goals and targets, and identify and develop the path forward, but it will always fall to commercial organizations to productize this work and make the IoT come to fruition. For example, certain verticals—such as medical and some industrial applications—need additional proof of quality, which is outside the scope of open-systems standards. It is here that the handoff is made to commercial entities to develop proprietary solutions based on the work of standards organizations, but that meet end-customer requirements for documentation and support.

Is the IoT a reality? It is: Some systems use the ideas already. However, we’re only partway there, as the IoT is not even close to being ubiquitous. The fact is that it will take time—and new technology—to achieve its potential. Open-system standards organizations are critical to identify the requirements and develop the approaches that will allow the IoT to truly come into its own.