IoT devices are growing in numbers at a speed as high as ever. The cumulative numbers of IoT devices are expected to reach 75 billion by 2025 with the addition of ~ 10 billion devices each year.
A variety of devices are coming into play (from home appliances to wearables to automobiles to security) with different technical profiles, manufactured by different brands on different standards. There is a need to develop the ability for all these devices to communicate with each other and to make them interoperable.
By definition, interoperability is the ability of the systems to communicate with each other, regardless of their make and technical specifications.
Here are some practical manifestations:
- Imagine having a coordinated control of opening and closing your home window and regulation of the temperature of your home AC from the same app on your phone.
- Think of smart water purifiers of different make being checked for water quality in real time by vendors providing services at different locations monitoring the purifiers for any filter replacement, on a single phone app.
- Imagine having an extended life of your devices by preventing overcharging of batteries just at the command of your voice.
- Imagine having a smart home assistant that knows where to direct your request to control AC temperature while watching TV.
- For efficient energy usage there are smart inverter to check for the power backup time beforehand, switch between appliance/turbo charge modes, have the buzzers muted/unmuted as per need and select performance modes on. All these are possible via wireless connectivity with a single phone app.
The current state of interoperability in IoT needs improvement. There is a need to reach for common standards for communication. The whole concept of IoT was to create an environment where millions of devices are able to communicate with each other making life better for their users. Without interoperability, we will just have so-called IoT devices running on local, closed, and limited environments.
Developments for Interoperability
The technology developers and manufacturers have agreed to set generally accepted standards and are taking initiatives to support interoperability in IoT.
- IEEE P2413 — Standard for an Architectural Infrastructure for the Internet of Things, a standardisation project aimed at identifying similarities in IoT environments as diverse as intelligent buildings, intelligent transport systems, or healthcare.
- IoT-A (EU project) is created to develop architectures that can be applied in various domains.
- IoTivity, an open source initiative, with over 300 members, including leading companies in the sector, is aimed at promoting cooperation between companies and developers.
- Industrial Internet Reference Architecture (IIRA), focused on industrial IoT applications was created in 2014 by some of the main operators in the market.
These initiatives by various groups reiterate the need for interoperability. And in order to achieve this, cooperation and flexibility from all stakeholders will be essential.