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IoT: What We Need is a Common Platform

The apartment industry, and all of humanity for that matter, have been seeking a common technology platform that can sync Internet of Things smart devices such as locks, temperature, lights, appliances and whatever else to make users’ (and residents’) lives even easier.

Device manufacturers must instead choose between disparate frameworks such as Apple's HomeKit, Works with Nest, Samsung’s SmartThings, Amazon’s Alexa and Android’s Things. Users then are challenged to determine whether the products they want are compatible with the system they bought into, reports the Fast Company blog.

Some big players in this space are coming together. The Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) displayed itself at a small demo pavilion at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. Among the biggest OCF names there were chip makers Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Samsung, LG and Sony.

Notably absent were the primary DIY supplier partners--Apple, Google, Amazon--or Custom Companies such as Crestron, Control 4, Savant. This is problematic, says Real Page Vice President Henry Pye.

“Also needing to be addressed is developing a 24/7 – 365-days-a-year cloud connection for IoT devices in multifamily--regardless of a unit’s occupancy,” Pye says.

Donald Davidoff, President, D2 Demand Solutions, agrees. “The fact that Apple and Google are not participating is very concerning. It’s possible that Apple could survive with its stack while almost everyone else uses a standard. Certainly, a single standard that made for more packaging and then modular growth opportunities would bring the smart home tech products much more into the mainstream.”

The influx of “Alexa-linked” Amazon Echo devices adds to this quandary. “And it works with Alexa” was one of the most-uttered phrases seen at the CES, writes blogger Shelly Palmer.

The real hijinx starts at home for those who have Google Home in one room and Amazon’s Echo (driven by Alexa) in another, she states.

“Each works with a completely different set of protocols and has different wake words,” Palmer writes. “Alexa has a head start, but Google is very likely to catch up quickly.”