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So, it’s clear that when Oculus launches it’s not going to be the instantly available system that many consumers want. A fair few developers are undoubtedly going to be pissed off, too – at least those running any operating system outside of MS Windows. IoT World 2015 Everyone is excited about the internet of things – and by excited, we mean seemingly unable to focus on one thing, not thinking very clearly, and talking excitedly about the same topics over and over again.A panel discussion called Delivering Smart Buildings in the Home at the IoT World conference this week helped put some of these issues in the spotlight. On stage were a number of people whose job it is to make sense of all the new activity going on and make it a workable (read: profitable) reality.Straight up, they arrived at the problem of standards and protocols. Our opinion is that for the next few years, multiple protocols are going to be a reality, said Kris Bowring, a director of business development at Lowe’s. Consumers will be looking on the packaging for whether it works with Comcast or with ADT. A hub is going to be necessary for the foreseeable future.

Xavier Datin, a senior VP at Schneider Electric, agreed: We’ve realized we can’t do everything and so we have decided that we cannot lock our customers into a particular network or protocol. The way forward is open protocols.But, referring to the two most common protocols for the smart home right now, he outlined that his company is already making choices: ZigBee or Z-Wave? We don’t know. We have had to make some choices. But we do need to bring the industry together on this. He won’t say what changes his company made, though, or why.Jim Hunter, chief scientist at IoT specialist Greenwave Systems, agreed with the problem but also highlighted why a solution wasn’t easy: All standards are not created equal. They deal with different parts of the software stack. But it is currently a requirement to make sure they are all supported.Hunter then pointed to the recent announcement that the Thread Group and the ZigBee Alliance had agreed to make their competing protocols interoperable as an indication that the market will eventually decide how the internet of things will scale.

Unless you follow this industry closely, you’re probably wondering what the other words around Bluetooth and Wi-Fi actually mean, so here is a very quick rundown.Bluetooth, of course, does many of these things, and it does so securely. But even with the latest Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) standard it can sap a lot of energy from a small product, and thereby reduce its usefulness. It also doesn’t really do mesh networks, so its 10-meter range can be limiting.Then there is Wi-Fi. It has much better range (although having just one router in a house often leads to dead spots) but it comes at a huge power cost. Any IoT device using Wi-Fi is going to need a big battery or a power supply. And so that, again, limits its IoT uses.

Because of these restrictions, IoT specific protocols have emerged. ZigBee and Z-Wave are typically grouped together because they both fill the two biggest gaps: they use very little power and they allow for mesh networks.With these protocols, you can run your devices all over your house, you don’t need to plug them all in, and they can communicate with each other in a mesh, so coverage is good. The problem is that neither protocol appears in most computing devices, so you need a hub somewhere in the home to get them to communicate with and be controlled by your phone or laptop.There are some differences between ZigBee and Z-Wave. ZigBee uses a higher frequency and as a result can transmit more data, but Z-Wave has a bigger range – about 30 meters, compared to ZigBee’s Bluetooth-like 10 meters.As for Thread – the new kid on the block – this protocol was created last year by a number of big IoT names (Google, ARM, Samsung). The big advantage of Thread is that it is an IP protocol and so can work with the vast internet infrastructure that already exists, particularly in home routers, as well as take advantage of the future expansion to IPv6 networks.

When it came out, many felt that Thread was a threat to ZigBee (it uses the same frequency band, for example). But just last month, Thread and ZigBee announced they would interoperate with one another.That partnership could turn the market on its head and put Z-Wave – which is the most popular protocol at the moment for IoT devices – under threat. And if you want to claim an early sign of Z-Wave’s impending demise, just this week the chair of the Z-Wave Alliance jumped ship and joined ZigBee as vice president of strategic development.And all of that is ignoring the incumbent big beast, Insteon, which has its own system that uses both radio and its own old-school powerline protocol to spread networking information around the house.El Reg spoke to Insteon’s CTO Dan Cregg this week and he argued that Insteon’s approach is still by far the most effective way to create an IoT house. Nonetheless, he said Insteon would also work with IP protocols to talk to other devices as they come to market (the firm has a developer kit and works with Nest, Sonos, and so on).

And that is ignoring the even bigger beast of Apple, which is expected to launch its HomeKit platform later this year. Like Insteon, HomeKit will be a proprietary approach that requires developers to sign up for Apple’s developer program, but it will also act as a bridge across to the ZigBees and Z-Waves in an effort to fit in with the broader ecosystem.Aside from the actual standards and protocols, there are also the industry alliances that are squabbling over which direction to go.The Open Internet Consortium, which includes Samsung, Dell, and Intel (all of which were there in force at the IoT World conference this week) wants to work toward a single wireless standard.At the same time, the AllSeen Alliance is specifically IoT focused and wants a common platform. It announced 10 new members last month to add to its approximately 130 existing members, which include such big names as ADT, Honeywell, Microsoft, Panasonic, Sharp, Sony, and so on.And then there’s the Industrial Internet Consortium and its roughly 160 members, most of which are in the other industry bodies as well.

Ignoring for a second that the whole underlying structure of the internet of things is, to put it diplomatically, in flux, the panelists at IoT World were asked where the real demand was headed.Alex Reed, director of consumer products at Big Ass Fans (yep), was clear: Wearable adoption is good. Smart thermostats have a high adoption; smart lighting and sleep technology.Datin from Schneider agreed: Themostats – thank you, Nest, for putting a sexy spotlight on that. But also charging stations and solar systems – something being driven by the interest in electric cars. He also highlighted microgrids, where battery powered devices can last 3-5 years, and home energy management, where people work out how to reduce the amount of electricity they use.Feature Exactly a year ago today Adobe’s Creative Cloud servers went dark for a whole day, leaving some users unable to open their apps. Deadlines were missed, clients were let down, digital editions failed to appear and a generally crap time was had by all.For more challenging jobs, stacking elements and effects in layers means you can keep re-editing. Although other apps support layers, not all match Photoshop’s flexibility – click for a larger image
Adobe’s social media team assured thousands of panicking creative professionals that normal service would probably be resumed fairly soon and in the meantime they should have a nice day.

It would be fair to say this did little to help the case for cloud-managed subscription-based software.Adobe’s switch to the rental model had already spooked some customers of its most famous product, Photoshop. Known to the general public as a verb, the app – currently marking its 25th birthday – is the default image editing option in the creative industries and beyond.But you can no longer buy it as a standalone product. If you don’t want a full Creative Cloud subscription, which works out at £45.73 a month when you sign up for a year, you can get Photoshop CC 2014, bundled with the Lightroom 6 photo manager, for £8.57 a month. One subscription covers Mac and Windows.Repair tools like Photoshop’s Healing Brush quickly remove unwanted elements from a scene: just paint roughly over them and the background is extended to fill the gap – click for a larger image
Considering that Photoshop used to cost over £500 – or £900 for the Extended version, the equivalent of today’s unified edition – you can’t really knock the value. Still, a lot of users aren’t comfortable with the thought that if they stop paying, their software will stop working.

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