Will the Internet of things turn into a Tower of Babel?

The emergence of smart devices means we can receive the same notification on everything in the house, from our phone to our TV to our air conditioner. The technology promises an unprecedented age of connectedness and efficiency — provided that the devices can speak to each other.

Right now, it’s unclear if the emerging internet of things era will produce a common platform, or else a series of silos that rely on proprietary protocols.

Chip maker Qualcomm is working to prevent the latter outcome, which SVP Rob Chandhok styles as a “Tower of Babel” scenario, by offering up its open-source AllJoyn platform as a common language for the IOT.

Speaking at GigaOM’s Mobilize event in San Francisco, Chandhok said the company’s goal is to create a world of interoperable API’s, and points to Tim Berner Lee’s success at building the world wide web 20 years ago; thanks to a common platform, people on the web had a standard way to share images — which in turn led to web advertising and the internet economy.

In the case of AllJoyn, Chandhok says the initial focus is household items and “things near me.” In practice, this might include a variety of wearable devices that can all be charged by throwing them into a common tray.

For now, Qualcomm is pushing its AllJoyn standard for household goods, and not for the industrial internet of things (though Qualcomm as a company is offering connected products in non-consumer verticals). As Chandhok explained, things like powergrids and generators can only practically develop in highly regulated economies.

While Qualcomm has developed a watch, Chandhok says it has no intention of becoming a consumer electronics company, and will focus instead on building chips — providing common tools that will let others compete on experience.

Check out the rest of our Mobilize 2013 live coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:

Clarification: This article was updated at 9:25pm ET to clarify that Chadhok’s comments referred specifically to the AllJoyn initiative, and that¬†Qualcomm is developing products for the non-consumer internet.

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A transcription of the video follows on the next page