Internet of Things

There are a number of ways to boost the adoption of technology. You can force technology upon the consumer as Apple has done with USB Type-C. Or you can make your software open source and grant the community royalty-free access to your patents. (There are substantially less hissy-fits with the latter strategy) Panasonic did just that when they recently announced their plans to grant free access to their software, patents, and “experiences” for the growth and development of the Internet of Things (IoT) industry.

The company made this announcement today at the Embedded Linux Conference. Panasonic’s CTO, Todd Rytting stated the following regarding the announcement:

Open sourcing a proprietary technology invites the open source community to evaluate, work on and ultimately improve the software. In a market full of incompatible, proprietary offerings, this initiative brings a powerful tool to developers and equipment makers to help them create what the market wants in the IoT: interoperable and flexible services and applications leveraging data from connected devices and most importantly value to the customer.

We hope our IoT initiative will inspire other global companies to contribute intellectual property and ideas to making networks work together through this alliance.

Todd is right. The internet of things is struggling to provide the unified experience that it needs to be successful. The war of proprietary software/hardware is creating a less than optimal consumer experience. Apple Pay is a prime example. Apple released their mobile payment service into the wild enabling consumers to pay with a “wave” of their phone. Users clamored over the new feature for the first week just to find out that CVS and Rite Aid had disabled the feature. 

The reason for disabling Apple Pay was their participation in the Merchant Customer Exchange program. This program offers up mobile payments in a little bit different fashion using different technology. It is these types of decisions that will ultimately prevent consumers from ever fully adopting such technology. If a user has to use Apple Pay at one retailer, Google Wallet at the next, and Merchant Customer Exchange at another; that person is likely to just pull out their debit card or pay with cash. Without an industry leader to push a unified eco-system, the Internet of Things will continue to be a poor consumer experience.

Read More: Apple Pay Disabled by Retailers

It is exactly the above scenario that Panasonic is attempting to solve for. By enabling other companies to utilize both their patents for hardware development and software for platform development, a unified consumer experience comes that much closer to reality. 

While certainly a relatively altruistic move by Panasonic, the company will no doubt benefit from the further advancement and adoption of Internet of Things technology. By providing other companies royalty free access to their patents and software, Panasonic will open doors to partnerships to sell even more of their software and components. 

Something poised to truly drive a unified experience is Panasonic releasing access to their OpenDOF framework for Internet of Things technology. “The OpenDOF (Open Distributed Object Framework) Project is a secure, flexible, and interoperable open-source software framework enabling the development of scalable and reliable network services based on connected objects.” This framework will give developers guidelines to follow when creating IoT experiences to help lessen the currently disjointed experience that the Internet of Things is today. 

The current challenges that we’re experiencing with the Internet of Things is nothing new. The invention of the internet itself was met with similar growing pains. It wasn’t until the adoption of standard protocols for web/network developers to follow that created the seamless online experience that we have today. Panasonic’s gesture is one that moves us in same direction today that standard protocol did with the original internet of yesteryear! (or ARPANET for those in “the know.”) Let’s just hope the community catches on and other companies begin to collaborate in a similar manner.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you think Panasonic releasing their patents and software will push the industry forward and have a positive impact on the consumer experience? Let us know in the comments below.