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Why direct device interaction is important for the success of IoT

The impact of the internet of things is not yet as big as many market participants were expecting. At least if you take a recent study sponsored by IBM and ARM into consideration. One of the major obstacles for IoT implementation executives are concerned with is the practical implementation. While high costs have proved a major hindrance, one might also ask if the way the IoT industry is selling its products and services could also be a problem.

If you’ve been to one of the many IoT conferences, you’ve probably heard that phrase that “data is the oil of the 21st century”. That is probably why manufacturers of IoT technologies think they should offer closed systems that rely on a cloud that nobody else can touch.

Let’s take a smart home system, for example. You’ll find many technologies for a “smart living” experience, ones for smart lighting, smart heating, smart gardening, smart kitchen, smart surveillance and so on.

Closed systems won’t be successful

Yet, while each solution provider might be an expert in his specific field with outstanding products, closed systems are not what customers want. They don’t want to install a new gateway for each system that talks to its own cloud and uses its own app. One for the lighting, one for the heating, the next for the robotic vacuum cleaner and probably another one for their home security system. That jungle of different systems makes IoT installations complex, inefficient and expensive.

One cloud to rule them all

Internet giants like Amazon and Google are now making use of that technological gap by combining these systems under another cloud: their own. By introducing smart voice assistants that have become so successful, vendors of IoT products and services can’t hide away anymore and must offer support for Amazon Echo, Google Home and even Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana smart voice assistants.

Connected clouds are unsatisfying

However, with that one major cloud that connects all the other systems, smart home installations are still too complex to become a bestseller. And one major issue remains: If the network is down, the whole smart living experience is rendered dumb within a blink of an eye. Nobody seriously wants that.

Common standards that enable devices from different vendors to interact directly with each other on a local level are urgently needed. With or without an active online connection, windows need to be able to tell the heater if they are open or closed. Motion sensors still need to be able to contact the lights, shades or doors.

Devices need more ‘freedom of speech’

Making devices less dependent on their respective cloud won’t necessarily cost the solution providers a source of income in means of information. Since smart home systems will always be used for monitoring and remote-controlling purposes, that business segment won’t die.

What needs to change is that too much unnecessary data is being sent around the globe. Devices need to be enabled to talk “more freely” with other systems. A common standard that enables direct interaction will not just make IoT systems less complex, it will make them cheaper to install, easier to maintain, more secure and, last but not the least, better selling.

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