The great thing about standards is that there's so many of them to pick from, right %^)?
As you point out, sometimes someone does something in a certain way and does it well enough that others adopt the same method. VHS vs BetaMAX was two different approaches to the same problem, each supported by its own commercial entities, and the market chose which it preferred. Certainly, in that particular case, the technical performance was only a part of the selection process - financial (licensing) considerations were also an important aspect of that selection.
The road for open standards has its bumps - well demonstrated by the 802.11n effort. It is an extremely successful and well used standard, however it was sometimes challenging as everyone gets to participate and to be heard, and there were not only the usual technical participants but others who had their own agendas.
Standards are vital to broad success and risk reduction. Standards developed by all interested parties, in a transparent and open process, like those promugated by the IEEE and similar entities, are the way to go.
For the automobile, I come from the same space as many others - that of the consumer. What's in it for me? Why should I care to buy a vehicle that has some sort of "connectedness" (especially since I know that's going to cost me something, much like airbags or a navigation system.) I agree that there is a general lack of understanding from the public on what this is for and what value to assign to it; it seems that even the industry has mixed ideas on what this is all about. However, conferences like ICCVE may ultimately help the industry and regulatory entities to sort out what are the most valuable and practical uses. However, I'm extremely happy that there are standards in place in the vehicle for audio file sharing, EMI/EMC, DC power generation and distribution, even for things like automobile tires, fuel, etc. It makes it much more cost-effective for me to enjoy the functionality of the vehicle due to this previous standardization.
In the rail vehicle space, we're already farther along the track in terms of connected vehicles; there's real value there (safety and operational efficiency) to having each vehicle connected to a network, to have those vehicles sharing location, performance, etc., to have those vehicles be able to communicate directly with trackside infrastructure to ascertain the status of signals, track occupancy, track integrity, and any speed restrictions ahead. In addition, the US mandated certain functionality (though appropriately not the methods) through a federal law, the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which helps as a forcing function.
Yes, standards are great, but only when companies see a profit in it. 802.11 was mentioned in the article, but look how long it took 802.11N to be ratified. MUCH longer than the G standard.
Look at Betamax vs VHS, HD_DVD vs Blu-Ray. You might argue that those are closed standards. The point is, if a company sees profit in making their own, consumers are held hostage until the dust settles.
Jon, standardization is an important factor to maintain uniformity among products/services. IEEE is a major organization which is responsible for developing, implementing and maintaining the standards. I think here also IEEE can play a major role for implementing standards and such uniform standards will help to maintain a uniformity among different vendors or OEM.
Nice article. One of the challenges for the DSRC (dedicated short range communications) vision of connected vehicles is getting people to understand what the heck that means. The "fish in the sea" concept described here is a pretty good one and it helps. For the most part, though, I've found that the buying public could care less, and certainly isn't demanding DSRC communications. Even though the connected vehicles idea has tremendous promise in terms of saving lives, it appears that consumers are far more concerned about mobile phone call quality inside their vehicles. Seems like it would be a lot easier to make standards for connected vehicles if the world knew what that meant.
Think how fast things are changing. I just read an article about a $14 eReader, a $40 iPad look-alike, and who knows how many other items that come out so quickly these days. Without standards, there could be limited innovation and the marketplace would be filled with console TVs, tape decks, and large cars with fins. I miss the fins, but I appreciate the vast variety of choices in the marketplace.
As an engineer, I want to know that my product meets standards that are recognized. It makes it easier to design to...
Standards are great. Free standards are even better. Take a look at shipping containers as an example. Keith Tantlinger invented a better way to pick and stack shipping containers. The patent for the tech was given away to the public and became the industry standard used worldwide. Prior to this, a container would go from place to place without some being able to handle the box. Now, that is no issue.
Read more about this in "The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger" by Marc Levinson.
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