AllJoyn Bids for Central Role in the Internet of Things

Qualcomm Aims to Make Its Peer-to-Peer Framework an Essential Part of Connected Devices

I’ve been looking again at AllJoyn, Qualcomm’s connectivity software framework. We first covered the technology in 2011 (see Event Report: Uplinq Conference 2011).

AllJoyn started life as a software development kit that allowed developers to establish peer-to-peer data connections between devices. At present it works for devices on the same Wi-Fi network, although the technology is independent of the bearer network. A number of applications already take advantage of AllJoyn, including Chalkboard, a collaborative sketching app, and Bizzabo, a networking app for conferences.

alljoyn-logoQualcomm has recently expanded its ambition for AllJoyn. It aims to make its framework the universal way to discover, connect with, control and use any connected device — to create “the http of the Internet of everything”. AllJoyn is open source and comes with four building blocks: discovery, control, notification and audio streaming. Video streaming will be added later. These building blocks are intended to be durable in the long term. This means manufacturers of products with long replacement cycles, like washing machines and cars, don’t have to worry about which operating system or which version of it smartphone users will have in a few years’ time.

The software can be packaged and downloaded with an app, embedded in a chipset, or — thanks to a small footprint version — embedded in smaller devices such as light switches. Qualcomm is putting AllJoyn on all its processors this year, and intends to show off AllJoyn in a range of product categories at CES 2014. It will be organising “plugfests” and interoperability testing sessions, and is reviewing how best to offer the software to standards organisations.

The idea for AllJoyn is a strong one, and the open-source approach is intended to give it the same role in the Internet of things as WebKit has in Web browsers. However, AllJoyn is up against a range of other standards that are partial substitutes, and an array of vested interests. Navigating this landscape to win widespread adoption will be a major task for Qualcomm. The chipmaker will need some astute politics and clever marketing to make progress reasonably quickly.