Internet of Things: Standards Really Needed?

As the Internet of Things (IoT) invades this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, some pundits are calling on technology companies and engineers to develop standards that drive IoT interoperability. But are such standards really needed?

Sure, you know about the previous standards waves. Offerings like TCP/IP, Ethernet, WiFi and HTTP gave us anywhere, anytime access to information -- at faster and faster broadband rates.

Extending that theme, the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) -- a United Nations specialized agency -- is striving to develop IoT standards. The union says it develops "technical standards that ensure networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect" -- extending that connectivity out to underserved communities along the way. The ITU's latest standards effort is called the Internet of Things Global Standards Initiative, which is designed to enable service providers to launch new IoT solutions. 

IEEE, IoT at CES

Somewhat similarly, the IEEE Standards Association says it has a "number of standards, projects and events" that are directly related to IoT's successful proliferation. At CES on Jan. 8, the IEEE will host an IoT Startup Soiree -- at which time the group will update its IEEE Standard for an Architectural Framework for the Internet of Things."

IoT standards will spur innovation, shorten development cycles, accelerate time to market and reduce overall costs, the IEEE asserts.

But here's the thing: While standards bodies develop frameworks and recommendations, the IoT industry is moving forward as well. Oracle has been rallying developers to address IoT challenges and opportunities; EMC is helping customers to gather and manage data from embedded systems; Cisco is pushing robust, secure network infrastructures for IoT; IBM is injecting analytics into the IoT conversation; and the list goes on.

Ultimately, the Internet of Things will enter the consumer mindset thanks to -- wait for it... -- innovative yet intuitive consumer devices. Shocking, right? Google's NEST team, for instance, just lined up more third-party NEST device support; and IoT pundits are waiting on Apple to launch the next stage of their HomeKit initiative.

Even before industry standards are fully baked, the IoT is proliferating. Just imagine the size and shape of this market when actual standards finally take hold...

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