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Qualcomm’s AllJoyn™ Framework: Putting the Home on the Phone

by William Ablondi | Apr 04, 2013

I recently attended a Webinar presented by Rob Chandhok, President of Qualcomm Internet Services, which provided an overview of how Qualcomm’s Innovation Center open source subsidiary, is evolving the concept of the Internet of Everything beyond cloud connectivity via its AllJoyn open-source application development framework. In a nutshell, AllJoyn facilitates ad hoc, proximity-based, device-to-device communications among products from any manufacturer, running any operating system. However, as Rob pointed out, machine-to-person (M2P) communications might be a more apt description for the process because a human is involved in the link at some point.

My interest, of course, is from the Smart Home perspective, but the technology has applications in the automotive and enterprise worlds as well. I’ll let my colleagues cover those. I had heard about AllJoyn about 9 months ago, but it’s been around since 2011. At the recent Mobile World Congress Qualcomm announced it’s adding services designed to address fundamental use cases. The Webinar covered these with some interesting examples that started to help me understand what AllJoyn is and how it might impact smart home developments.

The first batch of services which will be available later in 2013 will include:

  • Onboarding – a ‘headless’ or other simpler smart device can easily be configured via an intermediary, such as a smartphone application, for use on a user’s personal network. People will then be able to communicate with devices without displays via the displays they already have available. For example, the smartphone recognizes the various smart devices within its range – perhaps a thermostat, refrigerator, coffee pot or light switch – allowing the user to communicate and control them from the smartphone.
  • Notifications – enabling a standard way for devices to broadcast and receive text, image and multimedia notifications. When the oven hits the desired pre-set temperature perhaps an inspiring tune begins to play on the audio system instead of just a text message or ringtone. Or a washing machine could send a text to an Internet-connected TV to inform the viewer that the wash load is unbalanced.
  • Audio Streaming – facilitating an interoperable, open, wireless audio streaming protocol that allows users to stream their music across products from any manufacturer.
  • Control – allowing smart devices and appliances to export their control interfaces, including rich graphical elements associated with them. A dishwasher’s controls could be displayed on a smartphone or tablet complementing its own control panel with a richer UI.

Qualcomm is not intending to go it alone in developing AllJoyn. It is forming an AllJoyn Alliance of companies interested in using the technology to work together to develop the framework with an eye to develop an open standard for interoperability. All of this will take some time so I don’t expect to see commercialization happen for a few years, but appliance, CE and control systems manufacturers should check out AllJoyn. It claims a very low-cost BOM with very little memory and processing requirements.

More information is available at: https://www.alljoyn.org/

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