Do standards help or hinder innovation?

John W Lewis's picture
Chat Date: 
Thu, Jul 20, 2017

Standards enable products to operate in combination, and interchangeably with one another.

But do these standards help or hinder the adoption of innovations?

During #innochat on Thursday July 20th 2017, on Twitter at 12 noon Eastern Time, let's discuss the effect and the value of standards on the adoption of innovations. This choice of topic was triggered by an announcement this week which is likely to affect the field of home automation.

Standards enable products to operate in combination and interchangeably, which is a valuable capability. However, the need to conform to standards can constrain the implementation new capabilities.

Also, the timing of standards, their specification and introduction, can be difficult to judge. The factors that affect the optimum timing are often misunderstood, as are the consequences of standarising too early or too late.

Home automation, an example

In home automation, a variety of products are required to communicate with one another. So their value depends on their ability to interoperate. There are multiple possible standards for those products to implement for communication purposes. Some of those standards are newly emerging standards developed for this purpose, and other are existing standards mostly developed for other purposes.

This week, it was announced that an existing standard, Bluetooth, is to be enhanced with a capability (mesh computing) to enhance its usefulness for home automation devices.

As many people know, Bluetooth is the technology by which some of our devices communicate over short distances. These include, for example, wireless keyboards, mice and other input devices. This is not the same technology as "wifi" which is widely used for wireless Internet access.

This is the announcement: Bluetooth SIG Announces Mesh Networking Capability And this article puts this in the context of home automation: Bluetooth is getting a big upgrade to make it better for smart homes

Starting with this example, let's discuss, more generally, the relationship between standards and innovation.

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