Thirty years of ICT standardization

IoT subcommittee is the new kid on the block

The world has never been more connected and surrounded by ICT. Whether we realize it or not, many aspects of ISO/IEC JTC 1 work affect daily life. From a smart toothbrush, animal tracking collar and household appliances, to health monitoring wearables and smart systems in buildings and transport, the list is endless.

RFID labels can reduce food wastage
RFID labels give food retailers accurate information at fast read rates on short life foods (

Millions of connected objects

Millions of devices and objects connected with the internet of things (IoT) have built-in sensors, which allow them to gather and share information with relevant systems, often in real time, and to store huge amounts of data in the cloud.

As well as ensuring the quality and interoperability of this technology, the personal data gathered must remain private and secure. This is where standardization comes in, particularly the work of ISO/IEC JTC 1, the Joint Technical Committee of the IEC and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and its subcommittees.

The ubiquitous internet of things

Given the growing importance of IoT, which is used in many industries and businesses, in November 2016, ISO/IEC JTC 1 decided to establish a new subcommittee ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 41, focusing on standardization activities for IoT and related technologies. Its first meeting was held in May 2017.

IEC is providing administrative support for the subcommittee, which covers a broad set of IoT-related technologies, such as sensor networking, edge computing and wearables. It will also offer guidance on the development of IoT-related applications to ISO/IEC JTC 1, IEC, ISO and other entities working in this domain.

In order to achieve its goals, it liaises with 13 other ISO/IEC JTC 1 subcommittees, which cover among other things, biometrics, cloud computing, data management and interchange and IT security techniques. It also works with a number of IEC technical committees, such as IEC TC 65: Industrial-process measurement, control and automation, IEC TC 124: Wearable electronic devices and technologies, and the Standardization Evaluation Group for smart manufacturing (SEG 7). Additionally, it collaborates with other organizations, for example, the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC).

From first responder VR training to smart farming

Over the past year, IEC e-tech magazine has reported on a variety of technologies, which come within the scope of ISO/IEC JTC 1 standardization activities.

Seeing through a headset

Virtual reality (VR) is being used in diverse industries, including advertising, construction, military and mining, for practising complex surgery, or enhancing classroom learning, but the list continues to grow. For instance, VR applications are helping first responders train for natural and man-made disasters, and are being used for driverless vehicle simulations in intelligent urban infrastructures. These types of simulations help develop both vehicle and infrastructure technology, as the world prepares for a driverless vehicle future.

ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 24 works on interfaces for information technology-based applications relating to computer graphics and virtual reality, image processing, environmental data representation, support for mixed and augmented reality, and interaction with, and visual presentation of information.

Tags for tracking items

When products are ordered, they may be made in one place, transit through another and be stored somewhere else before reaching their final destination. Manufacturing plants and giant warehouses are examples of places where numerous components and/or finished products need to be tracked. Barcode labels on supermarket items greatly facilitate the shopping experience, while hospitals use such labels to track medical equipment availability.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is used widely to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects, as well as store basic information about them.

ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 31 covers automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) techniques, and publishes International Standards for barcode symbologies and RFID.

Engine parts, human organs and toys – the diversity of 3D printing

3D printers come in all shapes and sizes and use simple plastics, metals, biomaterials, concrete or a mix of materials, to produce a broad variety of objects.

This technology will profoundly affect business models, value chains and global manufacturing. It will allow individual objects to be made in new business environments. It will also enable the cost-effective production of devices and components that cannot be manufactured efficiently using traditional techniques.

However, it raises significant challenges, such as how to handle intellectual property and copyright if anyone can access 3D printing capacities with object models circulating freely on the internet.

International standards play an important role in developing the additive manufacturing market. The data that drive 3D printers must be stored, exchanged, indexed and secured. Protecting data is also critical when manufacturing safety or mission-critical devices or components.

ISO/IEC JTC 1 has created a Study Group on 3D printing and scanning (ISO/IEC JTC 1/SG 3). The group is investigating which IT-related Standards will be required to support the development of 3D printing and 3D scanning. It will present a comprehensive report, which examines current technology and market trends and offers recommendations for next steps, at the ISO/IEC JTC 1 October 2017 plenary.

Smart everything

Many industries have become smart. In the case of lighting, smart connected lampposts offer more than just light as part of smart city infrastructure. They can guide cars to empty parking spaces, provide drivers with local event and weather information, and if equipped with a screen, create advertising revenues.

An array of smart farming applications, systems and machinery improve farming efficiency and save costs. Animal wearables track herds, while fields send alerts to farmers telling them how much water they need. Agribots can weed between crop rows, and smart milking systems monitor the quality of every drop of milk and the cow’s health.

The IoT makes everything that is smart possible, because it integrates virtual complex information technologies, such as communication, networking, identification and security, with the billions of connected devices and systems.

Several ISO/IEC JTC 1 subcommittees produce International Standards which contribute to the smooth functioning of the IoT (ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 41), ensuring that the data gathered remains private and secure (ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 27) and cloud computing for data storage (ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 38).

Your DNA is the key

Who needs a key when a fingerprint can start the car? You can also forget the complicated code when voice command can activate the home alarm! The use of biometrics is increasing in consumer markets. For example, some car manufacturers are developing user profiles which will authenticate drivers using facial recognition and operate car entertainment systems with hand gestures.

International Standards for biometrics help ensure data security, reliability, quality and interoperability. ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37: Biometrics, covers specifications for the security, testing and reporting of different aspects such as data interchange formats, face image data, facial recognition, iris image data and voice command speech recognition.