The "Internet of things" encompasses a dizzying range of connected devices, some real and some still imaginary, but setting standards for all those things to work together will require getting down to specifics. The AllSeen Alliance did just that on Tuesday, forming a working group just for networked lightbulbs.
The Connected Lighting Working Group plans to create a framework for lights to communicate with other devices and with apps, making it easier for developers to write software to do things like changing the brightness and color of the lights in a home to suit the mood of the residents.
With a common way to talk to lights, other home devices could also interact with them, allowing for things like doorbells that flash the interior lights to announce that someone's at the door or a baby monitor that uses the lights in another room to let parents know the child has woken up. TVs, smoke detectors, home security systems and door locks might also be able to work with lights to create special home environments or programmed responses to events.
Home automation products are proliferating, but the difficulty of getting all these devices from different vendors to work together may be scaring consumers away from using more of them. The AllSeen Alliance is just one of the organizations trying to bring order to the connected home, with bodies including the Thread Group, the Open Interconnect Consortium and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) also stepping up their activities. It's not yet clear how much the various efforts may overlap or compete, but all are aimed at building a bigger ecosystem of vendors and products, which in theory should lower prices and spark innovation.
The lighting effort is part of AllSeen's overall project around AllJoyn, an open-source platform for discovery, security and interoperability among IoT devices. AllJoyn is based on technology originally developed by Qualcomm. The Alliance has built up an impressive roster of more than 70 member companies, including Microsoft, Sony, Haier and LG Electronics.
There are already several working groups under the Alliance, including one for gateway agents and one for smart homes as a whole, but the lighting organization looks to be the first one focused on a particular type of device. The first applications from the group should come out by the end of this year, AllSeen said.