The Zigbee Alliance has made its play to be the backbone of much of the connected future by revealing details at CES 2017 of dotdot, its new ‘universal language for the IoT’. Key functionality is that its creators say it promotes interaction and communication across any network.

The Zigbee Alliance says that most IoT devices don’t speak the same language (using different application layers), even if they use the same wireless technology; this results in an IoT that relies on a patchwork of translations usually done in the cloud, which can reduce reliability.

The alliance also argues that the current market environment presents a tough challenge to platform and app developers to maintain a growing set of unique interfaces to each vendor’s products, limiting the scale and innovation potential of the IoT.

The alliance hopes its solution will deliver a universal language between all IoT devices on any network to alleviate these issues as all the products will be using the same language.

How does dotdot work?

Basically, what Zigbee has done is to take the application layer of its own language and make it available to be used across other IoT networks, re-packed and marketed as dotdot.

The group hopes to steal a march with the backing of its 400+ strong global membership of companies and its open platform approach.

The group also claims dotdot offers developers more flexibility and speed in getting to market than other IoT languages still being drafted and gives users more freedom than single-vendor ecosystems that locks them in.

Tobin Richardson, Zigbee Alliance president and CEO, says: “dotdot represents the next chapter in the Zigbee Alliance’s continued commitment to create and evolve open standards for the smart networks in our homes, businesses and neighbourhoods.

“Recognising the value of the evolving application layer that has been the core language of Zigbee devices for over a decade, market leaders within the alliance have come together to transform it into a universal language for the IoT.”

Zigbee also points to its time in the sector and the 100 million smart devices already in homes and businesses that use it.

The group is also collaborating with other standards groups to bring dotdot to multiple IP networks and connectivity technologies.

The Thread Group (a natural fit as it uses the same underlying IEEE 802.15.4 radio technology and shares a large number of members), has been the first to announce official compatibility.

Other companies including MMB Networks, OSRAM, Nortek, NXP, P&G, Resolution Products, Schneider Electric, Silicon Labs, Somfy and ZEN Thermostat are among companies showcasing demonstrations of dotdot products in both the Zigbee Alliance and Thread booths at CES 2017. The first dotdot certified products are expected in late 2017.

The Zigbee Alliance will be announcing more details about dotdot, including specifications, certification and logo program later in 2017.

Way to early to tell if this will pay off for Zigbee, universal languages, even good ones that make sense, do not always have a happy history in consumer electronics, some of those big players with closed systems are less likely to be keen on the idea.

Still Zigbee is making its move and will hope to build enough momentum to bring on board not just those it already works with, but new partners too.