SMAhome has had the pleasure to sit down with Dr. Philip A. DesAutels, senior director of Allseen Alliance at IFA 2015 to talk about their latest offerings for the interoperability of connected home and his perspectives on the ecosystem expansions.
What are some of Allseen Alliance's highlights at IFA this year?
Besides the software update, our highlight at the show is the HAE, or Home Appliance and Entertainment framework. The HAE allows devices to talk back and forth, and it is a communications protocol for smart connected devices.
For instance, AllSeen's Gateway Agent allows you to connect local devices to a cloud or external services, whereas the HAE sits on top of AllJoyn and gives “meaning” to devices such as a refrigerator, washing machine, and so forth. It provides a semantic layer so that devices can talk to each other without an interpreter, such as devices from different brands can interoperate as long as they adopt the HAE framework.
The HAE provides more meaning for developers. The people who are working on HAE are all big brand manufacturers, including LG, Sharp, Electrolux, Panasonic, Lowe's, Honeywell, and so forth. Although they are competitors with one another, they understand that it is important to have a shared understanding of appliances so that they come together for device interoperability.
It seems that more and more new members are joining the AllSeen Alliance, what are the reasons behind their motivation?
The AllSeen Alliance is a big open source community. Whether you were a product manufacturer or a software company, you could either be looking to build your own hardware device or software, whereby spending a huge amount of time and capital on infrastructure software. Hence, the greatest attraction of our software is that it can be easily downloaded to run your devices. Our services enable manufacturers to cut the down the time to develop the required software to run. Since our introduction, our members have come to see the real value by being part of the community and contributing to AllJoyn so that they can add more and more to the community and to be part of this big ecosystem.
What companies are you targeting to join the AllSeen Alliance?
We have all the usual big brand companies, but there are two groups of members that we are interested in working with in the future: one is software companies who build apps and firmware; the other being those in the supply chain, such as OEMs. Not only do these companies represent only one product, they represent hundreds of customers. And so I think it's important that they get into the Alliance and to make sure that we are building the pieces that can help them.
Coming from Asia, ASUS also joined the Alliance. How is their membership valuable to AllJoyn?
ASUS is a great contributor to AllJoyn. As a huge manufacturer of Intel-based PCs and selling Windows 10 machines shipped with AllJoyn, there are currently 75 million Windows 10 machines in the market today all natively running AllJoyn. The Internet-of-Things is a big thing in terms of its reach, so I believe ASUS has an opportunity to expand their market share based on the Windows 10 side down to their service devices.
In June, we released the AllJoyn Device System Bridge (DSB). Microsoft Corp. contributed the open source DSB code to AllJoyn. It allows companies like ASUS to extend their existing Internet of Things (IoT) interfaces into AllJoyn as a common language for applications spanning consumer, healthcare, industrial and governmental sectors. For example, using the AllJoyn DSB, developers can connect BACnet-based devices for building automation or Z-Wave smart home products to AllJoyn-enabled devices locally or remotely, depending on the design configuration.
Lowe's joined the Alliance in August. As a retailer giant, what are the influences or benefits it brings to the community and its members.
Similar to the majority of OEMs and ODMs, Lowe's and retailer giants such as Arcelik, Euronics, Howdens, etc. are communicating directly to a lot of customers on a day-to-day basis. On the other hand, their supply chains are representing the customers, so they need to be part of the Alliance to represent their customers in order to make sure we are delivering the right thing for end-user customers. The supply chain is really important for them to be represented with us.
How about telecommunications companies? Will AllSeen be interested in their participation with AllJoyn?
We currently have Vodafone, LGU+, II Net from Australia, and AT&T. Telecommunication companies have a big role to play within the community. About a third of our members are involved in services, and the remaining are either producing or selling devices. From a consumer's perspective, we want to ensure that devices will work and interoperate with one another after purchased from the store.
What is the AllJoyn 15.09 update?
The latest AllJoyn 15.09 version adds in a second layer of security that caters to policy, rather than underlying or fundamental security. The new functionality builds on AllJoyn's existing end-to-end data encryption and message-based security, adding rich semantics that extend familiar security models from the cloud and app domain to the devices that make up the IoT.
This new update will facilitate services for users, groups, roles, relationships, and how they interact with things. It's basically a business layer, or social layer on top of underlying security, and that is what the 15.09 version is all about. With these updates AllJoyn minimizes development time and complexity, providing key management, permission rules, and certificates when managing IoT applications and devices.
When most people talk about low-level of security protocol, this is the next level up. This update is especially useful if you are a product manufacturer because you need that level to make it work.
So, what is the biggest difference between the 15.09 update and the previous version?
This update is a big addition to the previous one. Most people think of additions as technology pieces, but this is more about policy and the social ecosystem around AllJoyn. It provides the infrastructure to have service technicians, sales people, and all kinds of users to acquire the different layers built into the software of AllJoyn.