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Trade group to use IP for IoT software stack

31 Jul 2014  | Rick Merritt

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The IP for Smart Objects Alliance (IPSO Alliance) has revealed its plan to publish a specification for building an Internet of Things software stack using the Internet Protocol. The move by the trade group is reminiscent of a growing trend toward implementing IP in embedded systems.

The IPSO Alliance will publish at least one reference architecture this year for an IP-based IoT stack. It will also release a basic set of smart object data types for IoT communications over a variety of higher-level transports such as HTTP, CoAP, MQTT and DDS.

"IPSO is transforming itself from a group focused on educating people why to [educating them on] how to use IP, so we're helping identify a proper set of standards for IoT," said Geoff Mulligan, the group's chair.

The group will not create a software stack, but it will offer a reference architecture that engineers could implement in different ways. The smart objects are a set of software modules for handling specific IoT functions such as lighting control.

A handful of open source software stacks for the IoT are available or in the works including Contiki, OpenWSN, and an effort by Douglas Comer at Purdue. In addition, the Zigbee Alliance recently announced support for IP.

Efforts to standardise the fragmented IoT sector are on the rise. Nest recently announced the Thread Group, which is developing an enhanced IP protocol for home automation. That announcement was made days after Intel announced a new effort to define a standard that eases peer-to-peer connectivity in the IoT. That news came days after Apple said it would embed a home automation framework in iOS.

The new groups are signs it's still early days in the IoT. "I think we will find more companies try to band together like this," said Mulligan of IPSO, which consists of more than 40 corporate members, including ARM, Cisco, Freescale, Google, NXP and Texas Instruments.

IPSO is also planning the 2015 version of its annual challenge for innovative IoT designs. Mulligan just completed a year of service as a Presidential Fellow, helping create the Smart America IoT design challenge around a June exhibition in Washington, DC. "We had nearly 1,200 people, eight-year-olds to CTOs, where 24 teams from 100 organisations showed their work."

Another Presidential fellow and IoT pioneer, Sokwoo Rhee, will remain at the National Institute of Standards and Technology working on ways to continue the Smart America work. Organisers are exploring ways to deploy some of the work in smart city projects around the globe and continue local Smart America events in cities around the US.

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