Huawei's LiteOS looks to play central role in Internet of Things

The new operating system can work on everything from wearables to connected vehicles, Huawei said during a press conference on Wednesday.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

The Internet of Things is coming on strong in China, thanks to Huawei. The Internet of Things Consortium

China's Huawei Technologies is ramping up its claim on the Internet of Things market with a new operating system, the world's largest telecommunications equipment maker announced Wednesday.

Dubbed LiteOS, the operating system is designed to run on products that have traditionally not connected to the Internet, but will. LiteOS is exceedingly small in size, coming in at just 10KB (for comparison's sake, mobile operating systems are several gigabytes in size), and requires no configuration on the user's part, Huawei said during a press conference on Wednesday at Huawei Network Congress 2015, held in Beijing on Wednesday and Thursday. The LiteOS platform can also work on everything from wearables to connected vehicles, Huawei said.

The Internet of Things has quickly become the latest buzzy topic in the technology industry. The movement is defined by turning "dumb" products that sit offline and have no real communication with the user, manufacturer or outside world, into "smart" products. In order to achieve that goal, companies are slowly bundling Internet connectivity into their products and doing everything from pushing updates to them to allowing them to communicate with other products in the home.

A slew of formerly dumb products are getting some brains through Internet connectivity. Google's Nest smart thermostat, for instance, is one of the most prominent examples. Refrigerators, washers and dryers, and other home products are also increasingly adding Internet connectivity, along with cars and other products.

Analyst firm Gartner said earlier this year that the number of networked devices will soar to roughly 26 billion units by 2020, up from about 900 million in 2009. Another research firm, the International Data Corporation, says that the Internet of Things market will see revenue exceed $3 trillion by 2020.

Given that growth, several companies have started their march toward the Internet of Things. Apple and Google both have home automation platforms and just this month, Samsung announced plans to produce processors that would power newly smart devices. In January, Intel said that it, too, would produce processors to cater to the " delightful chaos" of Internet of Things. Meanwhile, IBM is investing $3 billion over four years to build out its own Internet of Things division.

Huawei's move is to profit from the software needs of those products. Unlike Intel and Samsung, which want to handle components, Huawei is most concerned with being the driver for connectivity through its LiteOS operating system. Indeed, the China-based company said on Wednesday during its press conference in Beijing that its Internet of Things offerings will cater to companies around the world.

To bolster its appeal to companies, Huawei also announced plans to build out its "Agile Network Architecture" to provide all of the infrastructure companies would need to build out connectivity in their devices. At the core of that effort are two services it's calling Agile IoT Gateway and Agile Controller. Those services, the company says, will reduce the workload that will be placed on wireless data networks that would need to accommodate the explosion in Internet-connected devices. Indeed, Huawei predicts that by 2025, 100 billion connections will be generated around the world.

Huawei's Internet of Things service is available now to vendors. The company didn't announce any partners by name, but it did say that it "has been involved in a number of in-depth technological collaborations" over the last few years. Huawei expects those connections to continue and expand over time.

Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.