Will The Internet Of Things Find Its Lingua Franca?

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March 18, 2016

Think of the smart home as a scaled down version of the world and all of the smart devices in it are the countries. Perhaps your security system is the United States, your smart appliances in the kitchen are Italy, and your garage door and the connected lights in the garage itself are Germany. Now imagine all of these countries have their own language and lack a lingua franca, a bridge language. If they are all speaking different languages, then how can they efficiently work together?

That is the problem the smart home, its smart devices, and the Internet of Things is faced with, but instead of speaking English, German, or Italian, these devices have to decide whether to speak Amazon, Google, or Apple.

As Fast Company Reports, Apple has created HomeKit for controlling smart home products with Siri, Amazon has its own virtual assistant in Alexa, and Nest, owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, has a system that automates actions across different devices. In addition, Google is creating its own language, known as Weave, and Samsung has a system called SmartThings. If you are a company that makes these devices, how in the world do you determine which languages they should be compatible with?

Beyond the companies making these devices, consumers can find themselves left with a tangled mess resembling a pair of ear buds haphazardly stuffed into a pocket. Samsung’s SmartThings can be controlled with Amazon’s Alexa system but not with Siri. Conversely, August smart locks are controllable with Siri, but not Alexa. Nest can control some types of light bulbs, but not others.

While some companies like Intel, Microsoft, and Qualcomm are taking the first steps in trying to create a unified language, it all might be for naught if companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple don’t show an interest, and to this point, they haven’t.

It’s not impossible for the Internet of Things to follow the path of the Internet of web pages, but it is going to take time and lots of cooperation between companies.

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