AdobeStock_2949914512020 will be the year of connected devices. I base this prediction on last week’s announcement that Amazon, Apple and Google have joined forces with the Zigbee Alliance to form a working group “that plans to develop and promote the adoption of a new, royalty-free connectivity standard to increase compatibility among smart home products, with security as a fundamental design tenet.”

The impact of the new working group will be enormous. There are already billions of connected devices in homes, offices, factories, warehouses, schools and hospitals. Soon, every building will be a “smart building” and every product that we buy or use will have an IP address.

Make no mistake: We are on the cusp of a new era in which everything and everyone will be seamlessly connected. While there are thousands of unanswered questions, this much is absolutely certain: The technology space will be completely and dramatically transformed.

People have been writing and talking about the Internet of Things (IoT) for years, but last week’s announcement represents a truly meaningful step toward the creation of a practical framework for a connected planet.

“The goal of the Connected Home over IP project is to simplify development for manufacturers and increase compatibility for consumers. The project is built around a shared belief that smart home devices should be secure, reliable, and seamless to use. By building upon Internet Protocol (IP), the project aims to enable communication across smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services and to define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification,” according to a joint release from Apple, Amazon, Google and the Zigbee Alliance. “The industry working group will take an open-source approach for the development and implementation of a new, unified connectivity protocol. The project intends to use contributions from market-tested smart home technologies from Amazon, Apple, Google, Zigbee Alliance, and others. The decision to leverage these technologies is expected to accelerate the development of the protocol and deliver benefits to manufacturers and consumers faster.”

Clearly, the implications are vast. Initially, the working group will focus on smart homes. But the standards that emerge from the group are likely to influence IoT technologies everywhere.

I am especially fascinated by the group’s focus on open-source software and related technologies. The emergence of an open-source standard will be essential to future development and growth of the IoT as a global technology platform.

From my perspective as a technology leader, this is exciting news. I’m interested in your opinion. What do you think of the working group’s mission? Let me know, thanks.