W3C Web of Things IG meeting in Beijing, 11-14 July 2016

DSC_0069_480x360Beginning of July 2016, the W3C Web of Things Interest Group met in Beijing, China, with a broad range of participants from 25 different companies and institutions. The face-to-face meeting was hosted by the China Electronics Technology Group  Corporation (CETC), the China IoT Industry Technology Innovation Strategic Alliance (CIoTA), and the W3C host at Beihang University. The event was also co-located with the CIoTA’s 2016 International Open IoT Technology and Standard Summit.

The first two days were open to local companies and institutions. We learned about CETC’s vision of IoT interoperability and enjoyed live demonstrations encompassing many things such as air purifiers, car controllers, and talking robots as well as the cloud-based E-Harbour IoT platform implemented by Beijing Wuliangang Ltd.

The Beijing meeting was also a milestone for the W3C WoT activities, as for the first time, all envisioned building blocks came to life in our so-called PlugFest. Multiple companies brought their prototypes, which we then interconnected in different cross-company, cross-domain collaboration scenarios. We successfully tested a running Web of Things made of

PlugFest

  • Air conditioners
  • Classic Raspberry Pi with extension shields
  • Industrial automation controller
  • Generic BACnet gateway
  • Table fan
  • Window curtains
  • Wireless sensor nodes
  • WoT-enabled Web browser
  • Several scripted WoT apps exposing virtual Things

The PlugFest scenarios now covered all building blocks

  • All devices registered their semantic Thing Description in a repository that allows SPARQL lookups
  • The participating Things had Protocol Bindings for HTTP, CoAP, BACnet, and Lemonbeat
  • The WoT-enabled Web browser as well as the industrial controller offered the Scripting API for dynamic mashups written in JavaScript

The highlights were probably

  • A WoT app running in the browser to interact with Things using UI elements generated from the Thing Description
  • A smartphone running a Servient that allows WoT-based access to off-the-shelf Bluetooth devices
  • A wireless sensor node doing a semantic lookup to find our comfort voter and participating in the vote based on its temperature sensor
  • A portable script moved to the industrial controller to control an air conditioner in Japan
  • A semantic rule engine to control window curtains from a wireless brightness sensor
  • Mashing up a BACnet controller and KNX room unit with a fan over Lemonbeat, an LED matrix over HTTP, and the voting sensor node over CoAP

This time, on-site participation was difficult for some of the previous PlugFest participants. Thus, we decided to move future PlugFests further toward remote participation and make reference implementations available online. Any implementer is invited to join to explore the current practices and to help leading the WoT activities into the right direction!

Participants

The next face-to-face meeting of the Interest Group will be in Lisbon, Portugal on 22-23 September 2016 as part of the W3C annual get together (TPAC 2016).

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Tackling data security and privacy challenges of the IoT

I’ve just returned from the IoT TechExpo Europe in Berlin. This event reflects the huge interest internationally in the potential for the Internet of Things. There were over one hundred exhibitions spread over two floors, along with 5 tracks. I was one of the panelists in a session on creating a standards framework for IoT as part of the Developer and IoT Technologies track. I followed this with a talk on tackling data security and privacy challenges. The talk covered the following topics:

  • Understanding the unique challenges of security for the IoT, and preparing for the next evolutions of the technologies involve
  • Addressing the risks of big data – greater volume of sensitive data creating a greater risk of data and identity theft, device manipulation, data falsification, IP theft and server/network manipulation etc.
  • Enabling data security in IoT – protecting integrity, authenticity and confidentiality of information
  • Exploring issues of privacy – to what extent users require privacy, and how it can be maintained whilst still making data useful
  • The role of metadata and shared trust assumptions for end to end security across platforms

IoT security should worry us all, and we need to work together on pooling best practices and identifying where new standards are needed. By participating in the discussions your company can help to drive this and to benefit from discussions with other security experts. Security is an important topic for the Web of Things Interest Group so please join us to help build a more secure Web.

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Application Platforms for the Web of Things

The Web of Things depends upon applications for its value. In the Interest Group. we’ve talked a lot about thing descriptions and APIs, but very little about applications, and I think this is holding us back.

A microcontroller may be dedicated to a single application. This is the model for the Arduino framework where each device is limited to one application sketch. For home hubs and cloud platforms we need to enable multiple applications to be installed and run. Some apps run in the background without a human machine interface, e.g. a data logger that stores sensor data onto a memory card or which uploads the data to the cloud. Other apps run in the foreground and require a human machine interface.

Imagine using a smart phone to access apps on your home hub. One of these will allow you to manage the installed apps. It will allow you to review the existing apps, to run them, to delete them, and even to install new ones. One way for this to work is for the home hub to act as a web server. At the minimum the hub will need to support HTTP, but it would be better if it can also support WebSockets for asynchronous bidirectional messaging. The hub would also need to support the protocols and communications technologies to access IoT devices.

When it comes to finding new apps to install, you would visit a website on the Internet that is trusted by your home hub. By this I mean that the hub provides the CORS headers that enable a script on web page loaded from an Internet site to communicate with the hub. The CORS header might enable any domain, with the hub requiring a certificate to be provided by the website. I can imagine the web page passing the URI for the app to the hub for it to download, subject to your approval. An app could be delivered as a zipped collection of files. The hub would verify their integrity and install them on local storage. The files would include the human machine interface for the apps, i.e. the HTML and related resources for the web page for accessing the app. The files would also include the scripts for accessing the things hosted by the hub as proxies for the connected IoT devices.

There are challenges for the smart phone to find the home hub, but I am confident that this would soon be overcome as the use of home hubs for smart homes becomes commonplace. Likewise, IoT devices need to be able to discover the hub and register themselves. Alternatively, the hub could discover the devices, but that doesn’t work so well for sleepy battery operated devices that aren’t listening for discovery probes.

Thing descriptions are metadata that describes how applications interact with things, and what protocols and communications patterns, platforms should use to access other platforms. If apps know about classes of devices and the protocols to access them with, then thing descriptions aren’t needed as the information is embedded in the app’s code. So what are the benefits for thing descriptions? They enable gateways to operate without needing to install apps for the given IoT devices, more generally they enable proxy chains, e.g. from an IoT device to a gateway to the cloud and finally to a web page on your browser. They enable services that combine data from different cloud platforms. They enable search and composition of services. They enable simpler applications which can interact with local software objects without needing to know about the communication patterns and protocols.

I am enjoying the slow process of implementing this as open source software, since being able to show people working examples is much more compelling than a slide presentation. My hope is that we can enable a thriving market of apps and services based upon open standards that lower the costs for integration across platforms and in doing so greatly expand the market potential.

W3C Day, Gijón, Spain, 26 May 2016

Dave Raggett talking about the web of things at the W3C dayMartin Alvarez Espinar is the manager for W3C España. He invited me to give a presentation on the Web of Things at the W3C Day on Wednesday 26th May in Gijón, a city in Asturias, Spain. After some introductions, we listened to a remote presentation by Szymon Lewandowski who presented the efforts of the European Commission on evolving industry towards a Digital Single Market. I followed with an introduction to the Web of Things and a brief account of the W3C Web of Things Interest Group and plans for a Working Group. There were talks about efforts by the Spanish government to promote the adoption of IoT technologies in the Spanish private sector. Panel sessions included Interoperability within the Industry of Things, Digital Enablers on the road towards Industry 4.0, Cybersecurity within IoT, Big data, cloud computing, and data analytics and Roads to Digital Transformation in the Industry 4.0. In the breaks we were able to visit the demonstrator stands. One applied a semantic based approach to monitoring light pollution due to city lights. Another looked at the potential for exploiting virtual reality. Martin has provided a longer account of the W3C day.

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W3C Web of Things IG meeting in Montréal, 11-13 April 2016

We travelled to Canada for meetings hosted by the Université du Québec à Montréal. A few of us turned up early on Sunday afternoon to prepare for the plugfest. The main face to face meeting, started on Monday 11th April. In the morning we had presentatons: Dave Raggett (W3C) kicked off with a context setting introduction. Soumya Kanti Datta (EURECOM) described work on horizontal IoT application development using Semantic Web technologies. Joao Sousa (Bosch) introduced the BEZIRK Platform. Dave reported his progress with implementation work on web of things servers and gateways. We then heard from Takuki Kamiya (Fujitsu) & Daniel Peintner (Siemens) talked to us about efficient encoding of messages using EXI (Part1 | Part2). After lunch we heard from Michael Koster (Smartthings). Matthias, Kajimoto-san, Sebastian, Johannes talked to us about getting started with a WoT project. Ian Skerrett then presented Eclipse IoT: Open Source Building Blocks for IoT Developers. After the plugfest demos, we enjoyed the group dinner at a Brazilian restaurant.

The next two days featured sessions on our current work items, and plans for outreach, and chartering a Web of Things Working Group. Our break out sessions included one on architecture, one on Bluetooth Smart and one on discovery. On Thursday, several of us took part in the W3C Track at the WWW 2016 Web Conference. The afternoon was devoted to the Web of Things session. We had talks by Dave Raggett (W3C), Johannes Hund (Siemens), Lionel Médini (LIRIS Lab, University of Lyon), Michael Cooper (W3C), Louay Bassbouss (Frauhnofer FOKUS), Sebastian Kaebisch (Siemens), Frank Alexander Reusch (Lemonbeat GmbH), Soumya Kanti Datta (EURECOM) and Claudio Venezia (Telecom Italia).
Group photo from Montreal face to face

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W3C Web of Things Interest Group Face-to-Face Meeting in EURECOM

The Web of Things Interest Group met in Sophia Antipolis, France on 25-28 January 2016, hosted by Eurecom. This started with a plugfest, which is now a regular feature of our face to face meetings. There were four proposed tracks of implementations security, APIs, thing registry and HATEOAS. This event attracted more than 20 implementations including remote participations. A highlight was a demo remotely controlling an air conditioner in Osaka, Japan.

The 26th was devoted to an open day with a variety of presentations. In the morning Johannes Hund from Siemens talked about WoT – exploring the physical world and Dave Raggett from W3C talked about the benefits WoT can bring in manufacturing world creating smart manufacturing. Soumya Kanti Datta from Eurecom described how WoT can assist vehicles to be a part of the constantly growing ecosystem of IoT. Victor Charpenay from Siemens and Louay Bassbouss and Fraunhofer FOKUS shared their insights on Resource-based µRDF Store for T2T Interactions and Implementation of Thing API for HomeKit.

In the afternoon, Matthias Kovatsch from Siemens gave an overview of HATEOAS approaches. Martin Bauer from NEC and Omar Elloumi from Nokia described the semantics in oneM2M. This followed on from the ETSI M2M Workshop in Sophia Antipolis in 2015, where Dave and Soumya had presented the W3C related work. Omar returned the favour by talking to us about his interest in further collaboration between oneM2M and the W3C WoT IG.

The next two days featured detailed discussions on our current work items with break out sessions for each of the four technical task forces.

Plugfest preparation on Jan 25 group photo on Eurecom steps

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W3C Web of Things Interest Group meeting in Sophia Antipolis, France

Eurecom logo The Web of Things Interest Group will meet in Sophia Antipolis France on 25-28 January 2016, hosted by Eurecom. The first day will feature a plug fest as part of the group’s focus on sharing implementation experience. The second day will be an open day. The last two days are devoted to progressing Interest Group work items, including the preparation of a charter for a Web of Things Working Group, that we hope to launch in the first half of 2016. If you would like to participate in the plugfest or the open day, please contact Soumya Kanti Datta, who says:

EURECOM is very proud to welcome the participants that are preparing tomorrows’ standards for truly enabled Web of Things

For more information see the 4th IG meeting wiki page.

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From a world-wide web of pages to a world-wide web of things – interoperability for connected devices

Logo for Industry of Things World USA conference W3C is seeking to unlock the potential of the Internet of Things and reduce its fragmentation. Jeff Jaffe (W3C CEO) will give a keynote at the Industry of Things World USA conference in San Diego on 25 February 2016.

He will explain how W3C is focusing on simplifying application development through a platform of platforms that integrates existing standards to reduce costs and enable open markets of services. W3C is bringing people together to work on the challenges posed by discovery, composition and monetization of services, along with security, privacy and resilience in the face of faults and cyber attacks. Jeff will further explain how W3C is addressing scaling across devices, platforms, and application domains, including the challenges involved in web scale services. He will describe the need for collaboration across industry alliances and standards development organizations and the steps that W3C is taking to achieve this.

We look forward to connecting with the Industrial Internet experts at IoTW USA 2016, to challenge current thinking, share best practices, talk about future developments and latest innovations, and we hope to meet you there. W3C Members will receive a discount on the event ticket price.

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W3C Web of Things Interest Group meeting in Sapporo, Japan

wot-ig-sapporo
The Web of Things Interest Group met in Sapporo, Japan on 29-30 October 2015 as part of W3C’s annual week of meetings (TPAC). We listened to status reports and plans for each of the four existing task forces: Thing Descriptions, APIs & Protocols, Discovery & Privacy, and Security, Privacy and Resilience. These task forces are conducting technology landscape surveys and plan to publish these as Interest Group reports early in 2016. TPAC provided a great opportunity for an exchange of ideas across W3C groups. Tobi Langel talked to us about the work of the Device APIs WG on the Generic Sensor API. We also had joint sessions with the Automotive IG and new Spatial Data on the Web WG. We heard ideas from the MozOpenHard Project on browser APIs for access to low level capabilities (WebGPIO and WebI2C). Fraunhofer FOKUS presented work on a discovery API inspired by the Presentation API. RWE talked about discovery, configuration and working of Lemonbeat-Devices. Samsung introduced their “Things Web”.

A high point of the meeting was the plugfest. We had some 8 implementations, many of which focused on the RGB lamp use case that was agreed in advance. We want to hold another plugfest at our next face to face in January 2016, where we plan to cover security capabilities. After an evening dinner at the Sapporo Beer Garden, we continued the next day with a summary of the results of the plugfest, followed by break out sessions for each of the task forces. We also agreed to launch a new task force to focus on communications and outreach, including collaborations with IoT industry alliances and standards development organisations. We’re continuing to work on plans for chartering a W3C Web of Things Working Group in 2016.

Several of us then traveled on to Yokohama for a joint W3C Web of Things IG and the IRTF Thing to Thing Research Group meeting. There we discussed the aims of the T2TRG which is about to get a charter, and we split into task forces, one focusing on boot strapping security for IoT devices, and the other on REST and a study by Ari Keränen on RESTful design for the IoT. There was enthusiasm for continued dialogue between the WoT IG and the T2TRG, and we will now explore opportunities for joint plugfests in 2016.

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W3C and IIC sign liaison agreement for the Industrial Internet of Things

W3C is seeking to address the current fragmentation and data silos in the Internet of Things by exposing IoT platforms through the Web for a Web of Things. Interoperability will be based upon rich metadata and shared semantics, with services running on a wide range of platforms from microcontrollers to cloud-based server farms. Our aim is to enable open markets of services at a Web scale, with a consequent reduction of costs and expansion of business opportunities.

There are many application domains for the Web of Things, including smart industry.  The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) seeks to bring together the organizations and technologies necessary to accelerate growth of the Industrial Internet by identifying, assembling and promoting best practices. The IIC and W3C have signed a liaison agreement to collaborate on realising the potential for the Industrial Internet.

This includes sharing use cases, requirements and emerging frameworks for consideration in joint work, for W3C to consider the IIC requirements and architectures, and likewise for for W3C Recommendations to be considered in IIC deliverables. This agreement is a sign of the growing importance of the Web for transforming industry practices.