What Is OCF and Why Is It Important?
Lack of interoperability is a major obstacle to adopting IoT. Can OCF solve this and connect billions of devices with their new standardization of protocols?
With the holidays fast approaching, you’ve probably been bombarded with ads for smart home devices, right? Smart TVs, self-automated vacuums, or even smart plates that can help you manage your diet, are filling shelves at malls and big box stores. While a lot of people welcome these new technological advances, many are still not totally on board with smart technology and the Internet of Things (IoT). One reason people aren’t adopting these devices is because of how difficult it is to get different devices to communicate with each other, making their IoT dreams fall short of reality. In an ideal world, your IoT life would look something like this: You head out to work for the day. Your smart home knows nobody is in the house, so your smart thermostat turns down the heat to save energy. Your iRobot gets to work so you come home to a nice, tidy house, and minutes before you pull into the driveway, your smartphone alerts your home that you’re near. Your smart lighting turns on to welcome you, and your smart pet feeder gets Max’s dinner all served up! For such a story to become real, devices must be able to work together, and there must be common connectivity between the individual devices. Luckily, there is a movement happening right now to accomplish just that. A group of 170 companies (including many tech giants) are working together to enable standardization, certification, easy discovery and easy connectivity between IoT devices, which will radically change how we use smart devices and home appliances in the future.
What is OCF?
The Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) is an IoT standards group made up of members from Microsoft, Intel, Samsung Electronics, Cisco and several other tech companies big and small. Their aim is to “unify IoT standards so that companies and developers can create IoT solutions and devices that work seamlessly together.” These companies work together to devise specifications, certifications and design protocols so that devices from different manufacturers, operating systems, or physical transport can work harmoniously together. And for situations like our smart home example above, OCF is working hard at certifying devices and perfecting their framework so that scenarios like these can become an easy-to-implement reality. For example, Microsoft is interested in building an operating system that sends apps and driver models to work across any device, like your fridge or an ATM. Volvo recently announced their plans for a keyless car, which can be unlocked, started and even managed by an app. IoT technology is happening today, and OCF is at work to ensure that it becomes mainstream and easy to use in the not so distant future.
Why is OCF Important?
There are billions of IoT devices out there from smartphones and wearables, to devices for your pets. However, the problem we face is the lack of communication between them. Why can’t they all communicate with one another? Because of the different manufacturers, operating systems or chipsets. And that’s why OCF was created. OCF includes companies from all parts of the manufacturing process, which enables unified connectivity across devices. With more connectivity across devices, more people are likely to adopt smart technology, further helping unite the movement and spread the benefits of IoT.
Wrapping It Up
The Open Connectivity Foundation’s sole purpose is to unify and connect devices, regardless of where they’ve been manufactured or what operating system they run on. By connecting our smart devices, we can seamlessly create a smart environment that caters to our needs. From making our house warm before we come home to reminding us to buy milk or pet food, smart technology is just plain useful and at times even necessary.