The world is in the grips of a major silicon-components shortage, and it’s affecting production in nearly every sector. At the start of the pandemic, demand for components soared along with the demand for computers, servers, and gaming consoles.
Social distancing at factories and chip-hoarding among tech giants has led to the most serious “chip-famine” in recent memory. The shortage will undoubtedly affect the price and availability of electronic devices through 2021 — but smart home experience pioneer Plume isn’t worried.
You may know Plume as the creator of the world’s first self-optimizing WiFi, but the company is more than a WiFi solutions provider. Lately, Plume has been on the front lines of bringing order and integration to the smart home. Its open-source software has paved the way for an industry-standard that could provide some relief during the shortage.
Most remarkably, Plume is finally delivering on the original vision for the smart home — complete interoperability.
Interoperability is talking about the ability of a system such as a computer system or a type of software to be able to use information-interoperability between devices that are made by different manufacturers.
OpenSync Could be the Missing Link for the Connected Home
In 2018, Plume and Samsung, among other industry players, announced OpenSync — the first multi-industry open-source framework — designed to connect in-home hardware to the cloud.
OpenSync is a cloud-agnostic, CPE-agnostic, and silicon-agnostic layer of software that operates across WiFi-enabled devices. It allows Internet service providers to deliver, manage, and support residential cloud services for their customers. The cloud-agnostic application allows workloads to be moved seamlessly between cloud platforms and other infrastructures without problems with operating dependency.
Licensing of the Open Source Framework
OpenSync is available under a BSD-3 open-source license. The BSD-3 is the Modified BSD License (3-clause) — which is in the family of permissive free software licenses. This license is compatible with RDK, OpenWRT, and prplWRT. It’s also integrated into the SDKs and designs from the industry’s leading silicon providers.
While OpenSync may create some more competition for Plume, it will ultimately safeguard the company’s future through versatility, compatibility, and its ability to scale.
According to Plume CEO Fahri Diner, consumer needs are evolving. We’ve gone from simply needing Internet connectivity to craving faster speeds for entertainment and socialization. Now consumers are looking for personalized cross-device experiences.
Connectivity to Support All Services
Connectivity to the home and services in the home are starting to decouple, says Diner. Companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Google have bypassed Internet providers to offer services directly to the consumer. To stay competitive, providers have realized they must be able to curate, deliver, and support these services.
Liberty Global, Bell Canada, and Comcast have already joined the OpenSync initiative. And why not? It makes it incredibly easy for Communications Service Providers (CSPs) to swiftly deliver the services their customers want. It’s also a natural fit for Plume, who has always sought to partner with—rather than compete against—providers.
How OpenSync Enables Smart Home 2.0
OpenSync doesn’t just help usher service providers into the smart home era. In a big-picture sense, creating a common software layer allows Plume to fulfill the original promise of the smart home. Every device and every service can be fully integrated and controlled from the cloud.
“Consumers today demand choice when bringing products and services into their home that work best for their lifestyle, without being locked into any one ecosystem,” says Samsung Vice President Chanwoo Park.
The Consumer Wants Easy Install and Interoperability for All Smart Home Devices
A smart home user might have an Amazon Echo, a Nest camera, a Samsung smart refrigerator, and Apple TV. Ease and convenience go out the window the minute those things don’t play well together.
With OpenSync, consumers can equip their homes with smart networking gear from many different suppliers regardless of their CSP (service provider). Consumers don’t want to have to stick to a single brand of networking devices. These issues will become especially relevant as we see tech companies try to exert more control over the smart home ecosystem.
Demand for the New “Works-With” Generation of Products
Last May, for instance, Google ended “Works With Nest” and transitioned to “Works With Google Assistant.” In a nutshell, Google didn’t want users controlling Nest products through third-party smart home applications. Google also makes its own proprietary WiFi system.
Imagine if the “works-with” generation of products is extended to “Works With Google WiFi” and made it more difficult for consumers with Google WiFi to utilize IoT devices from other brands?
Open-industry standards supplied by multiple vendors, such as OpenSync, are the best way to fight any attempts at monopolizing the smart home through proprietary WiFi networking.
The Beauty of Plume’s Hardware-Agnostic Solutions
Plume seems to have anticipated that major brands and service providers would soon be vying for consumers’ complete devotion. The company cleverly side-stepped this problem by making its smart home solutions hardware-agnostic. Plume’s adaptive WiFi works seamlessly with a customer’s existing CSP and any OpenSync-enabled hardware.
Plume has always been hardware-agnostic, putting the software required to connect a networking device to the cloud onto any brand of device, with any type of chipset inside. Plume took this to the next level by open-sourcing that software with its partners in 2018.
Total Hardware-Agnostic Capabilities
Working toward total hardware-agnostic capabilities allows not just Plume, but anyone, to put the software on any device with any chipset. Flexibility and availability have been a win for Plume and its partners. Wireless customers can get all the frills of adaptive WiFi and other smart home services without locking themselves into a particular hardware supplier or chipset vendor.
OpenSync gave Plume an opportunity to make inroads with every major provider because it solved a growing problem CSPs had. Their customers were rapidly adopting smart home tech — along with a layer of new services.
Until OpenSync came along, providers didn’t have a good solution to help their customers manage this. With OpenSync, the Internet of Things suddenly just works.
Why OpenSync is a Shock-Absorber to the Silicon Crisis
An open-source framework could prove to be even more valuable as the silicon shortage becomes dire. Plume has forged partnerships with major chipset vendors, and the top 20 leading WiFi CPEs are supported by OpenSync.
All OpenSync-powered CPEs can coexist on the same network, even devices of different WiFi generations, each utilized optimally in a mixed network. This extends the lifecycle of hardware that would otherwise be rendered obsolete and provides peace of mind to CSPs who issue these pieces.
Fully Adaptive WiFi and Smart Home Solutions
In many ways, Plume has positioned itself fully as an adaptive WiFi and smart home solutions provider. It has brought peace and harmony to the device-integration madness without stepping on anybody’s toes. Consequently, over 22 million homes are being powered by Plume.
The silicon shortage will inevitably bring more manufacturing bottlenecks and higher prices for the consumer. Users won’t want to replace their hardware as often, and the smart home will have to adapt. That’s where OpenSync comes in.
When all players are using a common layer of software, users can mix and match to customize their experience.
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