FCC chairman touts Silicon Valley entrepreneurs' new Internet of Things Consortium

By Kym McNicholas , written on January 7, 2013

From The News Desk

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says, “Machine-to-machine communications and the Internet of Things promise tremendous benefits for consumers and our economy.”

For once a big shot government official and entrepreneurs agree. Startups are flocking to make Internet-connected devices, right now, making everything from home thermostats to fitness devices to automated door locks, they need to make sure the devices can talk to one another. Finally, the vision of the connected home we saw in Saturday cartoons thirty years ago may actually come to life.

But a group of startups doesn't want this revolution to occur on a single platform. Instead, they are proactively taking the anti-Apple approach – one in which they develop products that are open and connect to each other. They don’t want to be like Apple’s set-top box, AppleTV, where no one can write any apps or services to connect to it, or even like the iPhone where you can access consumers on the device, but only in their controlled sandbox.

The ring leader of this group, appropriately named the “Internet of Things Consortium,” is Jason Johnson, best known as a managing partner at co-working space, Founders Den. He has a stealth start-up of his own and has shown me exclusively what it is… but he’s not ready for me to reveal it to you just yet. Just know it’s some sort of internet connected device, which is why he started this non-profit organization.

Companies who’ve joined the “Internet of Things Consortium” include Active Mind Technologies, BASIS Science, Coin, Kease, Logitech, MOVL (KontrolTV), Ouya, Poly-Control, SmartThings,

Daniel Gnecco of MOVL, a company who’s KontrolTV platform is already on more than 60 million smart televisions says, “We look forward to seeing how the consortium's members can leverage our solution in the living room.”

SmartThings will definitely benefit from a consortium such as this as well. The company is developing a platform, which allows developers to create products that connect every day objects to the Internet. The company is pushing for an “Open Physical Graph," which is a frictionless way of controlling everything in the world today (well almost everything) with digital cues.

“As an early leader in this emerging market, SmartThings is delighted to be a part of the Internet of Things Consortium to help drive collaboration and the emergence of an Open Physical Graph," said Smart Things CEO Alex Hawkinson.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski heard about the consortium and hopes it helps to accelerate this new application of Internet technology saying, “I look forward to seeing the innovations that the Consortium’s members will bring to market."

Johnson believes new products and services will certainly emerge through this consortium, which meets for the first time at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas on Wednesday. But he says initially the goal of the group is to simply help the makers of these internet-connected products and services to all collaborate with one another on solving some of the new technology challenges facing the industry such as the lack of support for Bluetooth Low Energy on Android mobile devices. They can also help one another on retail strategy (whether to sell online or via physical stores), power consumption management, and with manufacturing issues (deciding whether to make the product in the U.S. or overseas).

The consortium is well-meaning, as all consortiums start out. But whether it matters will come down to how aggressively the participants push this agenda.

[Image courtesy: DVICE]