Sam Lanning is a computer science student at Oxford University and a sponsored member of the AllSeen Alliance. Sponsored members are reserved for organizations such as non-profits, associations, or academic institutions and can be admitted by a majority AllSeen board vote.
Why did you want to become a part of the AllSeen Alliance?
I have been particularly interested in the subject of device interoperability for a while now, and long thought that to reach our tech visions of the future, we will need cooperation way beyond what we have today. We would need open-source, community-driven protocols and platforms, just like what we’ve had for years in various Internet protocols, only a level higher. After discovering AllJoyn, realizing that there are others out there who share my vision, and seeing that lots of progress had already been made, I obviously became very excited! After writing a blog post, and getting in contact with a number of people from the AllSeen Alliance, the subject of a sponsored membership was brought up, and of course, I was more than happy to get on the bus!
What contributions do you hope to make as part of the Alliance?
My interests mainly lie within extending AllJoyn beyond its current feature set, in particular extending AllJoyn beyond proximal communication within the home and enhancing security. AllJoyn currently works great, but this is still only the tip of the iceberg, the project has the potential to revolutionize everything. I see AllJoyn as being much more than a platform for your own personal devices to interact; I see it as a platform that will enable secure, peer-to-peer connectivity for all devices and people, globally. If we are to make these enhancements, security has to be a primary concern. I have already made some progress with a basic high-level design that solves a lot of these problems, but there’s lots of work remaining.
Why is open source software and collaborative development important for advancing the Internet of Everything?
Open source collaborative development is not just important for the Internet of Everything, it’s important for all technology fully stop. The Internet would not be where it is today if it were not for open standards and open software. Physical interfaces, Ethernet, IP, DNS, SSL/TLS, HTTP, and SMTP are all open standards that are fundamental for communication as we know it today. If we want things to work together at a higher level, we need this open collaboration at that level too. Without this collaboration, we will be stuck with these isolated silos of devices and services that work well within themselves, but not with one another, and I certainly don’t want to be limited to purchasing products based on what partnerships exist between companies. Imagine if you could only view “Apple” websites on your Apple devices, and “Microsoft” websites on your windows devices — this is in essence what is currently happening within this industry.
Additionally, the existence of an open ecosystem allows for smaller and newer companies that are not yet well established to get on the scene and create products that integrate well with many existing ones, without trying to negotiate partnerships with larger companies. For example, at the Qualcomm Connected Home demo at Mobile World Congress, a brand new startup Birdi(link is external) had a smoke detector and smart air monitor set up to make the LIFX lights in the home flash red, display an alert on the Panasonic TV and unlock the August smart lock on the front door when smoke was detected. Even more impressive is that this interaction was entirely based on peer-to-peer communications — nothing had to communicate with any cloud services and no data was needed to leave the house in any way. This kind of massively cross-industry interaction would not be possible for small companies were it not for AllJoyn being open.
How will the work of the AllSeen Alliance impact the industry in the short term? In the long term?
The Internet of Things and the Internet of Everything is a very, very new industry, and most companies are still trying to find their feet. For the short term, I envision that the work of the Alliance will mostly impact the smart home space with more and more companies getting involved and integrating AllJoyn into their products to allow seamless interactions between their products. It will take a while for AllJoyn to be adopted by everyone, but over time various big players will be convinced of the benefits of joining an open ecosystem rather than trying to lock consumers into their own closed products.
For the long term, I see the AllSeen Alliance allowing for much more than just personal device interaction. There are a number of ideas that are at the heart of the Alliance that really have the potential to completely revolutionize technology as we know it. Two ideas in particular that really stand out to me are peer-to-peer communication for everything and users getting to decide how all their devices and data interact. Imagine being able to send encrypted messages directly to your friend’s devices without the need for cloud services. Imagine devices and interfaces around you constantly adapting to your actions and preferences (for example, a lamp turning on as you sit down at a chair). Imagine being able to have your own personal / work data (such as email, calendar, chat windows, and web browser tabs) follow you around, in your home, in your hotel room, or at work, and conveniently display on the nearest screen (subject to your privacy and security settings). Imagine everything just working seamlessly, everywhere, with complete knowledge of where your data resides at all times.
This is a future I envision, and I truly believe that AllJoyn has the potential to be that leading platform.