If the Internet of Things didn't quite proliferate in 2014, at least IoT industry groups and standards bodies did.
At least five efforts at bringing order to IoT began in 2014, and another that launched in late 2013 found its legs this year. That caused some confusion in an industry that was vast and multifaceted already. Unfortunately, all those groups will probably be here a year from now, too -- maybe even more of them.
IoT involves linking devices that in many cases have never been connected before, or at least not on anything but a closed, specialized network. It also involves managing those objects and developing applications to make them do things together that they could never do alone. So products from different vendors eventually will have to speak the same language, at some level.
If they can't, then products for connected homes, cities and factories won't ship in the largest possible numbers, which they will need to do if prices are to plummet like they have for PCs, smartphones and other products over the years. That's especially important for consumer IoT, where cost is paramount.
So vendors are eager to build some momentum behind technologies that are already starting to roll out. They don't want to wait for formal standards bodies to build the equivalent of the IEEE 802.11 family of specifications that powers the vast Wi-Fi industry, said analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy. Until formal IoT standards are finished, probably in 2017, companies are banding together to form de facto standards, he said.
Not all the organizations that have formed in the past year are actually writing specifications of their own. Some want to foster harmony among the ones that are already taking shape. But despite pledges all around of working for the good of the industry, there are some groups whose efforts overlap.
Here, in no particular order, are some of the big names at play:
Open Interconnect Consortium
Industrial Internet Consortium
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