February 6, 2015

AllSeen Alliance Senior Director Philip DesAutels: The Full Promise of IoT Lies in Open Source

The Internet of Things is already a reality -- thousands of devices, from home appliances and consumer electronics, to smartwatches and cars already connect to the Internet. The problem is that they don't easily, or simply can't, connect to each other to form an Internet of Everything, says Philip DesAutels, senior director of IoT at the AllSeen Alliance, a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project. 

Philip DesAutels

DesAutels works with Alliance members to advance the Internet of Everything by building out an open source software framework, AllJoyn, to seamlessly connect a range of objects and devices in homes, cars and businesses. He oversees and guides all aspects of the Alliance, from governance and technology, to the developer community and marketing efforts.

"To realize the full promise of the Internet of Everything, we need a unified community much like we see in Linux," DesAutels says. "The greatest technologies that exist today are the result of collaborative development."

DesAutels will lead a panel discussion on the future of Iot at The Linux Foundation's Collaboration Summit on Feb. 18-20 in Santa Rosa, Calif. Here he discusses the difference beteen the Internet of Things and an Internet of Everything; the role of the AllSeen Alliance in creating an Internet of Everything; and the role of open source software and collaborative development in business innovation.

Linux.com: What is the Internet of Everything, as compared to the Internet of Things?

Philip DesAutels: Today there are more things connected to the Internet than there are people on the planet. But very few of those connected things connect to each other. We have “solutions” for connecting devices today that are characterized by proprietary approaches which have created one silo after another, resulting in a lot of highly capable devices and systems that just don’t work together. So the Internet of Things really is a term that can describe any level of connectivity of devices, apps or services.

The Internet of Everything, however, is more than a mass of devices connected to the Internet. It’s about the consumer experience and giving users the freedom to choose devices, apps or services based on your lifestyle, without having to worry about whether it will work with your other ‘things’.

The Internet of Everything is about delivering a simple, seamless experience for connecting and interacting with devices. It’s where things that were silent have a voice. Where APIs compete with dials and buttons for control of the products in our lives. Where devices and apps talk more among themselves than with us. Where people compose amazing experiences from the world of things around them.

So where the Internet of Things is here today, we have more work to do to create an Internet of Everything. To achieve the Internet of Everything and create the unprecedented social and economic opportunity for people, businesses, and communities that it promises, we need more than a mass of devices connected to the Internet. We need a common framework that every device, every application and every service can use so that they can securely interoperate locally and remotely creating a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.

Why is this distinction important? The Internet of Things is here. We have billions of connected products on the market today. But do they all talk to each other? No. We have silos and fragmentation inhibiting us from reaching ubiquitous connectivity. That’s the Internet of Everything. So the distinction is in what we’re missing. We’re missing a common framework that every device, every application and every service can use so that they can securely interoperate locally and remotely creating a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.

How will connecting everything change businesses and business models?

DesAutels: The Internet of Everything creates an unprecedented social and economic opportunity for people, businesses, and communities. Businesses will be able to focus on the consumer experience rather than getting their products to work with other proprietary solutions. They’ll have a greater understanding of the consumer need which will result in the delivery of richer services. When you remove the barriers to interoperability and all the things work seamlessly together, businesses are free to innovate and discover new ways to transform lives and consumer experiences.

What are the technical hurdles to achieving an Internet of Everything and what is the role of open source in overcoming them?

DesAutels: To realize the full promise of the Internet of Everything, we need a unified community much like we see in Linux. It needs to reach across consumer electronics to smart cities and to the enterprise. This community needs to work on a universal framework that unleashes a world of innovation and frees us from the silos we’re currently facing. A language that people can build on and that prioritizes intelligent interoperability across electronic devices, applications and systems regardless of transport layer, platform, OS or brand. This is where open source plays an invaluable role. Open source is all about innovation, choice and vibrant collaborative communities working to move a technology forward. This reduces fragmentation and duplication in the market and leads to greater levels of interoperability.

How is the AllSeen Alliance involved in innovation in this space - what sets it apart from other efforts?

DesAutels: The AllSeen Alliance is an open source community with over 110 members working to advance the Internet of Everything through the the creation of a common language called AllJoyn that will connect billions of devices, services and apps regardless of brand, manufacturer or transport layer. It works much like WiFi or HDMI does today.

The vision is to have billions of certified AllJoyn-enabled products on the market so that consumers, businesses and industrial users have the assurance that these products will just work – without thought or technical reconfiguration.

The AllSeen Alliance is focused on open source code development. Rather than having an organization that spends a lot of time debating specs and writing hundreds of pages of docs that then need to be interpreted and implemented by different companies, the AllSeen Alliance members are focused on what contributions of code they want to make to advance the work. If something is missing in the AllJoyn framework, our members are actively putting in effort to fix it or improve it. The result is real code that is running in real products today.​

The AllJoyn framework continues to be the first and most innovative platform for supporting a fully connected experience. It’s very promising that we can already find AllJoyn in dozens of products on the market today. Some examples include LG televisions, LIFX smart LED light bulbs, Local Motors Rally Fighter, Microsoft Windows 10, Musaic Wireless HiFi System, Powertech APPSTRIGGER smart socket and Panasonic ALL Series Wireless Speakers, among others.

Is there anything else you’d like to highlight about your upcoming panel at Collab Summit?

DesAutels: Openness, collaboration and vibrant developer communities will lead the way for true interoperability and will move markets forward. Linux is a great testament to how this can be done. Whether you’re talking about the Internet of Everything, Automotive Linux, Drones or another open source technology, what we need is less fragmentation, greater innovation and the flexibility to choose a technology that’s best for our lifestyles – not one that we’re siloed into.

The greatest technologies that exist today are the result of collaborative development. That’s why there are more open source projects on the market than ever. I’m excited to talk about the impact open source has had on the AllSeen Alliance and its community and share some best practices that bridge technologies and move an industry forward. There are dozens of real products on the market using the AllJoyn open source framework today.

My panel at Collaboration Summit will also consist of some of the companies creating these AllJoyn-enabled technologies, and I’m excited to hear their perspective on why this open source project was chosen as the path forward.

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