Qualcomm is set to showcase the evolution of its AllJoyn proximal networking technology at CES 2014 in January next year, as it looks to create an alliance in the coming months to add some independence to its ongoing development.
Speaking to Mobile World Live on the sidelines of a Qualcomm event last week, Sy Choudhury, senior director of product management, noted that AllJoyn has evolved from being a “smartphone app to smartphone app” technology, to become a way to enable communication between devices including smart TVs. And from here, it has been extended to include other connected appliances.
On top of this, AllJoyn has been augmented with “additional building blocks” to deliver a common way to undertake tasks such as sending and receiving notifications across devices, to make it easier to implement and drive interoperability across multi-vendor platforms, “to have a common lingua on top of the base peer-to-peer connectivity that the software enables”.
The technology is being adopted in three main areas at the moment: home video, home audio, and home appliances, Choudhury said, with consumer home automation falling into a second tier. Other markets, such as automotive, are seeing “some R&D going on but nothing that is going to come to market in 2014”.
With Qualcomm having been the driving force for AllJoyn to date, the executive said that “very large companies that are incorporating AllJoyn into devices have said to us that it’s great, and its licensed under permissive open source, but how do I know that Qualcomm won’t change its mind about that? So we want some sort of a standards body”.
With “connectivity middleware – for want of a better description” not sitting comfortably into the existing standards body, Qualcomm is “launching our own alliance soon – the plan is within the next two-to-three months”.
This group will have two roles. Firstly, to “provide some independent governance of the code base”, which Choudhury said the company hopes will see other people contributing and “makes it much more neutral than it is perceived to be”. And secondly, it will work with issues such as “certification, logos, things like that”.
“We have some other players that actually make equipment who are actually better at this, so we will lean on them to help guide this process,” he said.
With AllJoyn being open-source and Qualcomm not making money through licensing, having invested “a lot of engineers, and have for three years”, Choudhury noted that “it’s not altruistic that we are doing this and giving it away, it’s to drive interoperability for this next wave of connected devices.”
“Our business thrives on consumers, so we need scale. And this proximal interoperability is critical to growing businesses into new segments and markets. Because frankly if consumers do not value connectivity, they will not buy these new devices, and that hurts our bottom line, because we monetise through processors, whether cellular or wireless and Bluetooth,” he said.
Qualcomm also has its own AllJoyn-based solution, called AllPlay, which is “a media streaming solution, made up of software and hardware – makes sense, because we monetise through hardware – and it is targeting whole home audio.”
“We’ve designed a specific SOC, which contains microprocessor and Wi-Fi and a variety of I/Os for audio all built in. It has a software stack that has not just AllJoyn, which sets up the peer-to-peer network, but a media streaming synchronisation layer on top of that,” Choudhury said.
This is also consumer-focused, because “we see a huge gap in the market for home audio. There are some players in the market at the very high tier, but it doesn’t need to be high-tier.”
“We have very large OEMs on board, and are looking to launch in 2014 with the AllPlay solution,” he noted.