Sunday, October 13, 2013

Makers - how to win the IoT standards battle

Internet of Things as a bussiness area is currently in a very interesting phase. There are multiple competing standards in both hardware and software. Last year it became obvious, that WiFi is going to be the most important hardware standard, complemented by more specialized standards in some areas (personally I would bet on Dash7 for ultra-low power and energy harvesting apps, and maybe BLE for smartphone apps). WiFi also secures IP domination in the network layer. However at transport layer and above the winner is not yet clear. There are standards like XMPP, MQTT and CoAP which are backed by serious industry players.

Meanwhile there are other interesting technological developments going on. One of the most interesting is the "Maker" culture - a community of programmers, engineers, hobbyists and professionals, who deploy new technologies in unique and inventive ways. Maker community is the rebranding of old DIY culture, but thanks to the Internet it is much more powerful.

I would like to propose a hypothesis: the Internet of Things standard widely accepted by "Arduino/RaspberryPi Maker Community" will become the leading IoT standard for the whole industry. My points:
1) IoT is often described as a solution waiting for a problem. Makers usually solve real-world problems, so it's a good test for a fledgling standard.
2) Maker community is a reservoir of creativity. Makers are developers of low-cost, or free solutions - an equivalent of an "app store for hardware".
3) Makers usually choose technologies which are well-supported, and easy but also powerful. With mass adoption, limits like bad documentation and technological weaknesses become obvious very fast.

It seems that big IoT players aren't doing much to attract Makers to their respective solutions. I think it is going to change in the next couple of months. First one who is able to convince Makers to their solution wins :)