Open architecture and data and services federation required to achieve the true potential of the IoT
Jim Nolan is the executive vice president for IoT Solutions at InterDigital. Here, he shares his views on the company’s IoT solutions and ambitions for growth with Emil Berthelsen, the principal analyst at Machina Research
Emil Berthelsen: 2016 appears as a watershed year in InterDigital’s IoT plans, but perhaps the thinking has a longer history?
Jim Nolan: About five years ago, InterDigital recognised that IoT was not just a story about sensors, connectivity and simple consumer IoT applications. It was about capturing the data from disparate data sources and creating value from that captured data. But to organise all that, you needed an underlying standardsbased framework as interoperability would become critical. In 2013, Sony and InterDigital formed the Convida Wireless joint venture that helped drive those emerging IoT protocols and standards, such as oneM2M, and created a standards-based reference IoT platform to promote adoption and interoperability for the benefit of the entire IoT ecosystem. This reference platform developed by Convida Wireless formed the basis of InterDigital’s commercial offering, oneMPOWER, currently being deployed in vertical applications spanning smart buildings, smart cities, industrial, and enterprise applications.
In 2016, a partnership with Harman, a leading connected technologies company for automotive, consumer and enterprise markets was signed, and led to the continued development of oneM2M- and 3GPPcompliant end-to-end IoT solutions for smart city and smart building segments.
EB: How important a role do standards play in IoT and InterDigital’s approach?
JN: InterDigital recognised early on that many industrial automation and enterprise IoT solutions were based on legacy systems that were disconnected, disjointed and proprietary with limited ability to share information across these siloes. This lack of interoperability limited the opportunities to fully make use of valuable data unless there was a framework that could federate data and associated services. System integrators and aggregators clearly had the capabilities to integrate data, but creating scalable and future-proof architectures required a new approach. The microservices framework provided by the wot.io is a turnkey solution that allows IoT data and services integration, orchestration and configuration. The wot.io framework abstracts infrastructure details, enables messaging and routing infrastructure, provides flexible adapter frameworks to integrate and manage any data source or service, and offers a large and growing library of out-of-the-box adaptors including those for business intelligence, analytics and others. All of this results in removing months of building a necessary framework just to get started.
InterDigital designs and develops advanced technologies that enable and enhance mobile communications and capabilities. Since its founding in 1972, the company’s engineers have designed and developed a wide range of innovations that are used in digital cellular and wireless products and networks, including 2G, 3G, 4G and IEEE 802- related products and networks.
For more than four decades, InterDigital has been a pioneer in mobile technology and a key contributor to global wireless standards. InterDigital has a team of approximately 180 engineers – approximately 80% of whom hold advanced degrees, including 60 PhDs with unparalleled expertise in major mobile connectivity and content delivery technologies. Since 2000, InterDigital has spent more than $1 billion on technology research and development.
The company’s activities are organised around the concept of creating the Living Network: a future where intelligent networks self-optimise to deliver services tailored to the content, context and connectivity of the user, device or need.
InterDigital’s oneMPOWER, powered by wot.io, platform is a horizontal standards-based IoT platform focused on connecting devices across different industries and communication networks. This platform forms the backbone of many industry solutions that InterDigital has been creating together with its ecosystem of partners and customers.
From a connectivity standpoint, we believe that, in the mid- to long-term, LTE-M and NBIoT will become very compelling connectivity options with the oneM2M standards framework built in. With the turnkey capabilities of the wot.io framework, InterDigital built its solutions around oneM2M and other worldwide standards. We believe this approach differentiates our solution from that of our competitors.
InterDigital also recognises that there are multiple standards; either proprietary marketmaker driven, Standards Setting Organisation (SSO) or consortia-based like those of WC3, OCF, IIC, OpenFog, UPNP, and others. The oneM2M standard and InterDigital IoT solutions are actively defining ways to integrate and work with these complementary standards and solutions.
EB: Could you share an example of the application of InterDigital’s platform?
JN: The oneTRANSPORT initiative is a great example of utilising InterDigital’s platform to create a unique and differentiated solution. It is a public-private initiative that extends the intelligent transportation smart city concept to enable local authorities and transport operators to enhance their transportation services using a data brokerage concept. The oneMPOWER, powered by wot.io, platform enables this through the federation of data that not only integrates close to 300 data sources from multiple local authorities, but also opens the opportunities for developers to apply that data in new and innovative ways. InterDigital believes that there is a need for such open architecture and data and services federation in other industries to achieve the true potential of the IoT.