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Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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Why Compatibility is a Challenge in IoT

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Speaker
Prerita Agarwal
Data Specialist @
23 Jul, 2024 @ 01:30 PM

Introduction

With the Internet of Things (IoT), we can interact with domestic appliances, tools, and devices in a whole new and unexpected way. IoT is currently one of the fastest-growing fields today. We use IoT technology more and more every day - from the gym and on our walks to home security, travel planning, and thousands of other uses. IoT devices are becoming more and more common, making user experience increasingly important.

The problem with IoT is that several enterprises only focus on developing IoT solutions without evaluating or learning the primary challenges they face. The majority of these companies are not even in the IT industry or developing software, but most of them aim to provide Internet-connected devices to consumers. Companies with design experience in both software and hardware often misinterpret IoT as being the same as traditional computing technologies and make terrible mistakes when developing IoT devices.

Major challenges with IoT:

  1. DATA SECURITY AND PRIVACY CONCERNS
  2. CONNECTIVITY AND COMMUNICATION
  3. COMPATIBILITY ISSUES
  4. CONNECTIVITY

 

Challenges with compatibility

In the wake of new technologies, there are often many competitors jockeying for market share, and IoT is no exception. Competition can provide consumers with more options, but it can also create frustrating compatibility issues. The problem is that they all use different proprietary technologies.

Mesh networks at home are one of the areas where compatibility problems are looming. The Bluetooth standard has been the industry standard for many years. As a matter of fact, it had been named after an ancient king known for unifying warring tribes, Harald Bluetooth. Several competitors have also been to Bluetooth's mesh network offerings, including protocols such as Zigbee and Z-Wave. The home IoT market may be years away from establishing a single universal standard.

For IoT devices to remain compatible, users need to keep their devices updated and patched, which, as we've just seen, isn't always easy. There can be various performance and security issues caused when IoT devices that have to communicate have different software versions. IoT consumers need to keep their devices patched and updated for this reason.

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IoT interoperability 

Interoperability is defined as "the capability to operate together". Interoperability among IoT devices is a crucial challenge. There is a lack of essential interoperability in IoT ecosystems, making it challenging to connect devices and sensors seamlessly.

  • Gartner identified interoperability as one of the top three challenges preventing IoT from achieving its full potential.
  • According to McKinsey & Company, IoT interoperability could unlock more than $4 trillion in potential economic impact per year by 2025.

Recent research by the European project Unify-IoT found that more than 300 IoT platforms are currently available, and more are due to emerge. Platforms such as these promote their own IoT infrastructure, proprietary interfaces and protocols, and incompatible standards, formats, and semantics, creating closed ecosystems (also known as stovepipes and silos). Despite these limitations, the need for seamless interoperability, especially IoT interoperability, is growing.

The best way to understand IoT interoperability is to classify it. Due to heterogeneity, IoT interoperability issues can be viewed from different perspectives. There are heterogeneities everywhere, even in the physical world; for example, people speak various languages but communicate through translators (humans or tools) or by using similar languages. To realize the full potential of IoT ecosystems, the diverse elements (devices, communication, services, applications, etc.) must collaborate and communicate seamlessly. As shown in Figure, IoT interoperability can be viewed from different perspectives.

  • device interoperability
  • networking interoperability
  • syntactic interoperability
  • semantic interoperability
  • platform interoperability

Solving the IoT interoperability challenge

There are several ways in which interoperability can pose a challenge:

  • Limited connectivity among different transport protocols such as Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Zigbee.
  • Devices from different manufacturers cannot be integrated.
  • There are no set regulations or standards at the application level, making it difficult to combine and complement data from different sensors and devices.

There are two key areas companies are focusing on to improve interoperability:

  • IoT standardization.
  • Converged smart ecosystem.

IoT standardization

A significant way to facilitate interoperability between and within different domains is by using open standards. A standard is a framework of specifications that have been approved by a recognized regulatory body or are widely accepted and used in many industries.

Many technology companies and OEMs adopt open-source development and standards to develop interoperability solutions. Here are some of the groups working to improve IoT standardization:

  1. AllSeen Alliance: Responsible for developing the open-source AllJoyn framework. With AllJoyn, devices and apps can discover and securely communicate with each other regardless of transport, operating system, or platform.
  2. Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF): OCF has developed specs for a service-layer platform that allows discovery and communication between devices from different vendors and runs on multiple operating systems. OCF's reference implementation is called IoTivity.
  3. oneM2M: The purpose of oneM2M is to develop a standard that satisfies the need for a shared service layer that can be integrated into both hardware and software.
  4. Thread Group: Founded in July 2014, the Thread Group is the organization behind Thread. The Thread embedded networking stack is based on the 6LowPAN (low power wireless personal area networks) technology, allowing even small devices to be connected to the internet. The ZigBee Alliance and Thread are collaborating on enabling the ZigBee Cluster Library (branded "dot dot") to run over Thread networks.

Converged smart ecosystem

Consumers have high expectations for IoT. According to them, IoT solutions should be delivered and managed seamlessly, with services and products working together behind the scenes. Global brands are working together to create innovative partnerships to deliver seamless user experiences and seamless connections between devices.

Smart home brands such as Apple, Google, Amazon, and Samsung are embracing a "certified with" philosophy, which allows other companies to certify their products in order to participate in these ecosystems. Thus, global leaders can build smart ecosystems by combining products from different providers and standards. Certification should also mean seamless integration with other certified products in the same ecosystem.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does the Internet of Things Work?

Smart devices that are powered by the Internet of Things gather data and then transmit it over the network they are connected to or perform a certain action based on the data.

Can IoT devices work without the Internet?

IoT devices do not necessarily require the Internet to function. All IoT devices, however, need a network connection to be able to communicate with each other or receive commands.

What are examples of IoT devices?

In our day and age, we are surrounded by IoT devices. Wearable health monitors, RFIDs, smart cars, connected appliances, virtual assistants, and so on are some of the IoT devices you can find all around you.

Why is it called the Internet of Things?

Internet of Things refers to extending the capability of the internet to interconnect things with a variety of other devices on a network.

Conclusion

In the process of developing IoT products, there are many challenges. In this article, we discuss a few major ones. If these challenges do not get addressed, you may be walking into a deep gorge without a torch.

IoT's success depends on improving interoperability. There have been a variety of proposals addressing this crucial issue since the emergence of IoT. Each proposal promotes a different approach to addressing this issue. In this article, we present a comprehensive overview of the topic based on these works.

Check out this link if you want to learn more about the Internet of Things(IoT).

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Topics covered
1.
Introduction
2.
Challenges with compatibility
3.
IoT interoperability 
4.
Solving the IoT interoperability challenge
4.1.
IoT standardization
4.2.
Converged smart ecosystem
5.
Frequently Asked Questions
5.1.
How Does the Internet of Things Work?
5.2.
Can IoT devices work without the Internet?
5.3.
What are examples of IoT devices?
5.4.
Why is it called the Internet of Things?
6.
Conclusion