Interoperability in Electronic Systems



Interoperability, or the idea of being “plug and play,” has long been an implementation that engineers have looked for in the area of devices speaking the same language to each other. It takes the idea of open systems as opposed to closed systems. Multiple manufacturers can make different devices that all speak the same language and can communicate back to a single node within the system.

The basis for interoperability can be traced to the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Reference Model. Developed in 1974 by International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI), it represents seven different layers within a network system and, in turn, an interoperable system. Since then, almost all interoperable networks can be related to the OSI Reference Model.

With the fundamental premise of the OSI model, many standards have been developed and implemented.

Traditionally products have communicated via proprietary, nonstandard communication structures. This means that a single entity controls the language and way of communication between two or more devices. In other words, the system is closed. The system cannot have other products enter the ecosystem without cooperation from a central entity that has created, set up, and maintains the interface and communication of the system.

Why is interoperability so important in electronic devices? Consumers, governments, and ...

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