Have you connected your smart TV to your smart phone yet? Want to stream music from your tablet to your TV and soundbar? Ever tried to play a game on a Panasonic TV with a Samsung Galaxy S III?
There are times you can, and times you can’t, largely because of incompatibilities built into the devices. With so many platforms to connect one device to another—Bluetooth, AirPlay, DLNA—it’s a roulette game whether your stuff will be able to talk to your other stuff.
LG announced this week that it’s adopting Qualcomm’s AllJoyn open source platform for its smart TVs. AllJoyn, says Qualcomm, was designed to be a common language for communications among devices—specifically nearby devices. Qualcomm’s Ron Chanhok calls it the internet of near things (a play off the internet of things trend).
In the internet of near things, your connected devices talk directly to each other, rather than through the cloud. Unlike, for example, AirPlay, it’s not limited to one brand or one OS. AllJoyn can be adopted by any company that wants to use it.
What is it good for? The main example LG offered in its release on the platform was gaming. Several people could play Mini Motor Racing on a smart TV, but each using a different device as a controller.
Another interesting feature of AllJoyn is something called AllPlay—it’s essentially an AirPlay-like feature that allows media streaming from a mobile device to something else, like a TV or music player.
Even better, AllJoyn can go beyond simple music streaming or gaming. Chanhok described a demonstration conducted recently using a Haier air conditioner with AllJoyn. When a person using an AllJoyn smart watch left the room, the air conditioner sent a message asking if it should shut off of not. If AllJoyn were to be added to other appliances, such as dryers, ovens or refrigerators (LG makes all of those) the TV could receive messages regarding appliances status, such as Door Open, Load Finished or Roast Ready.
If more companies and devices adopted AllJoyn, apps could be written to integrate their function, all without the need for a hub, which most home control systems require. This potentially could lead to a lot more entry-level home automation. With AllJoyn lights and powered shades, an app could be developed to dim the lights and draw the shades whenever the TV is turned on.
For all that to happen, more companies need to sign on. Just this fall two products launched to tackle interoperability from a different angle—Revolv and Staples Connect both incorporate multiple wireless radios to allow them to communicate with different platforms. AllJoyn works on Wi-Fi (as well as Ethernet and powerline) but doesn’t require a new or proprietary radio.
Will this catch on? Maybe we’ll hear more about it at CES next year.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.