Sony joins Qualcomm's AllJoyn platform as smart home race heats up

Sony has announced it is joining Qualcomm's AllSeen Alliance, a coalition of technology and consumer companies utilising the open-source AllJoyn home automation platform.

The firm announced the move at its IFA conference in Berlin this week, and joins a host of other companies that have signed up to the platform.

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Microsoft, LG, Panasonic, Haier, Sharp and approximately 60 other firms have joined, as competition in the home automation market continues to heat up. AllJoyn enables third-party devices to connect and communicate with each and will go head-to-head with Apple's HomeKit.

HomeKit is scheduled to launch with iOS 8 this week, and operate in a similar way to AllJoyn, but utilises Siri as a hub for the connected appliances.

Last month, Samsung also purchased a home automation company, SmartThings, which has its own home automation platform, and Google's $3 billion (£1.8 billion) purchase of Nest Labs indicates that the search engine giant is also trying to enter the market.

The race to get ahead in the home automation market is understandable given that the industry is expected to be worth $16.4 billion (£10.2 billion) by 2019. However, at the moment there is no clear industry leader.

Developers have already created applications that demonstrate the utility of connected devices. Mercedes-Benz is currently building an in-car app that integrates with users' Nest thermostats in order to automatically adjust the temperature at home when the user drives away or returns to the house.

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Despite the number of companies aligned to Qualcomm's AllJoyn system, it may still be Apple that has the upper-hand in the home automation race. The prevalence of the iPhone and iPad is such that rival platforms, like Google's Nest, are being made compatible with iOS, something that could hand Apple a major advantage.