Beyond 4K at CES. The Internet of Things.

CES LasVegasWhat at CES 2015 could possibly interest a couple of audio network nerds?

Well, yes, gadgets of course. But there was also this: the Internet of Things (IoT). One analyst counted 900 exhibitors with IoT products there. Thermostats, coffee makers, watches, jewelry, dog collars, ovens, smart sports apparel … baby bottles. All connected to the Internet of Things.

It’s a great concept, this idea of connecting appliances (not to mention, that new 4K TV) to the internet and controlling them through your smartphone or laptop.

But, and here’s the oh-so-interesting part for us broadcasters, very few of those things can actually talk to each other. Your stove probably won’t be able to talk to your lawn sprinkler. And your thermostat probably won’t be able to talk to your dishwasher either, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But what if you wanted the outside light to turn on automatically when you open up the garage door at night? Or, if you wanted the inside lights to dim when you turn on the TV?

That kind of IoT interoperability between devices hasn’t happened, yet. Products made by the same manufacturer can talk to each other, like if you had a Whirlpool refrigerator and a Whirlpool stove. But consumer product manufacturers need to come together with discovery and control standards before all those things can interoperate.

Sound familiar?

At least in our world of audio network interoperability, we can all pretty much agree on the basic framework. We have the AES67 standard and now the AES-X210 task force, which is reviewing protocols for control and monitoring of professional media networks.

IoT manufacturers have the AllSeen Alliance and the Open Interconnect Consortium, which is a newer arrival with the same mission: open standards for interconnectivity between different manufacturers’ IoT products. There’s another schism between Samsung’s SmartThings smartphone app as a hub and WebOS, which is the operating hub that LG Electronics made clear it is rooting for at CES. We haven’t even discussed Apple’s smart home system, or Google’s Nest thermostat system. Or the hundreds of upstarts that will eventually become household names before it’s all over, like Hexoskin, which makes connected workout clothing, or Slow Control, which showed a smart baby bottle at CES.

The Internet of Things is here, but it’s not quite ready for prime time yet. When it happens in full, it’ll change things in so many interesting ways.

Site Navigations