Interoperability of IOT devices through integration of automation protocols

June 20, 2017

Buildings often contain legacy systems that are not well integrated with other systems. This hinders the deployment of system that enables further energy savings such as analytic systems, predictive control, or demand response. Opening the building interfaces to such tools is the first step. The second step is connecting these systems into a collaborative platform that allows the management of blocks of buildings across the globe. This is essential in particular for multinational companies that have global building portfolios and that are looking for integrated management solutions.

The Internet of Things requires elusive interoperability with automation protocols

 Current practices for building automation and management that control heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), lighting, access control and security traditionally act as silos which are operated independently and are provided as proprietary systems by multiple vendors. This leads to vendor lock-in and isolated systems that are operated independently of the organization’s core IT networks which

Further limits to the accessibility and integration potential of these systems.

Elements of IoT interoperability

To address the challenges of device diversity in the IoT, tech professionals should focus on three elements: multimode radios, software flexibility and hardware-based security.

1. Multimode radios allow diverse IoT devices talk to each other

Wireless connectivity is at the center of the IoT. Multimode radios, which bring numerous wireless communication technologies into a single device, are a proven approach to address fragmentation in many technology areas. For example, any decent smartphone these days contains a cellular modem with support for seven radio interfaces, so whether it is connecting to an LTE, CDMA or GSM network, the phone just works—and it can connect with any other phone on any other cellular network.

The same multimode radio approach is suitable for the smart home. In a place where light bulbs and switches use ZigBee, speakers connect with Bluetooth, and TVs and thermostats communicate via Wi-Fi, devices capable of understanding and translating all these disparate wireless technologies will provide consumers with the most convenience and flexibility, as they can interoperate with different smart home ecosystems.

Ultimately, interworking across different radio technologies is critical to the success of many parts of the IoT. Users want simplicity, and if devices are too difficult to install, synchronize with each other, or connect to a network, the growth of the IoT will be limited. With multimode radio solutions, users don’t have to be concerned about all the different network types in their homes, making it easier for them to adopt connected products and services.

2. The need for hardware-based security

Using multiple radio technologies and flexible software capabilities to address fragmentation and diversity in the IoT comes with an important requirement—strong security at each node. Utilizing multiple wireless technologies within a device potentially exposes more points for malicious parties to sniff network traffic or inject unauthorized code.

While no connected system can be 100 percent end-to-end secure, hardware-based features can improve device protection in ways not possible with just software. Well-known hardware-based features such as secure boot and trusted execution environments can prevent unauthorized code execution, while wireless protocol security capabilities can protect data in transit. As part of an end-to-end security approach, hardware-based security now can provide a higher level of protection not just to IoT devices, but also help safeguard the network going up to the cloud.

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