Consumer Electronics Show News Roundup

Samsung investing in open IoT; FTC chief says security should not be an afterthought; BlackBerry launching IoT platform; Allseen Alliance releases gateway interface; Nvidia ups horsepower for car computers.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Jan 09, 2015

Last year, the Internet of Things had a sort of coming-out party at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), in Las Vegas, where a number of manufacturers announced Internet-connected home appliances and other IoT products for consumers. This year, the IoT also took main stage, but the focus is now more on building interoperability, security and new features into the growing IoT ecosystem of hardware and communication protocols. (Whiz-bang IoT products were not completely absent, however, as evidenced by a Bluetooth-connected pacifier for babies.)

Samsung Makes Bold Proclamations

Samsung, which placed its stake in the IoT world last year with its $200 million acquisition of home-automation device maker SmartThings, made a range of announcements and predictions at CES. Boo-Keun Yoon, Samsung Electronics' president and CEO, told attendees that by 2017, 90 percent of the company's products will be connected to the Internet of Things, with virtually all Samsung products becoming nodes in the IoT by the end of this decade. Yoon also pushed the need for various providers to work together to ensure the interoperability of devices used within the IoT.

To that end, GigaOm reports that in addition to the Z-wave, ZigBee and Bluetooth Smart IoT communication protocols, the next generation of the SmartThings home-automation hub, due out in April 2015, will support Thread (a protocol introduced last year by Nest and other manufacturers), as well as the Intel-led Open Interconnect Consortium protocol.

Samsung also announced that it will invest $100 million this year to support companies developing IoT applications that leverage Samsung products. It will do this by growing its accelerator programs and improving their international reach.

FTC Chief Raises Privacy Concerns

United States Federal Trade Commission chairwoman Edith Ramirez spoke at a CES panel on data privacy, calling on technology companies to focus on safeguarding consumer privacy and building digital security features into every node in the Internet of Things. Specifically, she asked IoT technology providers to conduct privacy and security risk assessments and tests for each product prior to its release; to build in default security features, such as requiring periodic password updates; to use data-encryption tools to protect sensitive data, such as that related to health; and to maintain and update security features throughout a product's lifecycle. In addition, she advocated for user-related data that is collected to be anonymized whenever possible. "Many of the beneficial big-data uses from the IoT could still be accomplished by using de-identified data," Ramirez said.

Taking these steps now, Ramirez said—before IoT devices proliferate and many more companies begin gathering massive stores of consumer data—is the best way to avoid major security or privacy breaches.

"Companies are investing billions of dollars in this growing industry," Ramirez reported. "They should also make appropriate investments in privacy and security. The stakes are too high to do otherwise." Her full comments are available online.

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