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Sony backs AllSeen Alliance for smart-home push

The consumer electronics giant has thrown its weight behind an effort to get devices on the Internet of Things to communicate and cooperate. There are several such groups, though.

AllSeen Alliance logo
AllSeen Alliance

BERLIN -- Sony has joined the AllSeen Alliance, a group trying to make the Internet of Things a practical reality by ensuring a multitude of devices can communicate with each other, the company announced Tuesday at the IFA trade show here.

There are plenty of industry groups to pick from when it comes to extending the Internet to everything from lightbulbs to traffic lights, but the AllSeen Alliance is one of the major ones. Sony is joining as one of its premier members along with LG, Microsoft, Panasonic, Qualcomm, and Sharp, but the group has more than 60 members in total.

Some basic Internet standards have been enough to ensure personal computers, servers, and mobile phones can communicate. But tech companies trying to expand networking more broadly through what's called the Internet of Things are working on adding more new layers of technology. One such layer is AllSeen's open-source AllJoyn software that lets devices form networks on the fly, share messages, and adapt when devices are removed.

In short, the idea is to ease the administrative hassles that otherwise would force ordinary folks to become IT administrators when all they want to do is have homes, cars, and workplaces with some electronic smarts. The harder it is for people to configure their smart home gadgets, the less likely the Internet of Things is to become a mainstream success.

Also at the German electronics show, expect a lot of new devices from Sony's IFA press conference on Wednesday.

Naturally, the companies selling all these smart gadgets want that mainstream success. The problem is that the AllSeen Alliance isn't the only such effort -- and there are big names backing the rivals.

A crucial part of the AllSeen Alliance technology is defining how devices find each other and call upon each others' services.
A crucial part of the AllSeen Alliance technology is defining how devices find each other and call upon each others' services. AllSeen Alliance

One other big Internet-of-Things group is the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), whose members include Samsung, Broadcom, Dell, and Intel. Another is the Industrial Internet Consortium, whose members include AT&T, Cisco, IBM, General Electric, and Intel. Yet another is the Internet of Things Consortium, whose members include a number of companies already involved in the technology, including SmartThings, which Samsung just acquired.