W3C Launches Interest Group to Craft the Building Blocks of the IoT

In a precent post OpenStand highlighted an industry white paper that projected that the Internet of Things (IoT) will bring billions of new devices to the Internet inside of ten years.  The incipient growth spurt that this field is experiencing is being manifested in many sectors including smart homes, healthcare, smart grids, smart cities, retail, and smart industry.  However, the growth of the IoT is slowed by been silo-driven, disjointed development, resulting in device and network incompatibilities across the spectrum.  To date, there are no significant global IoT standards have been successfully introduced that will help bridge platforms from application to application.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an affirming partner of the OpenStand principles and leading advocacy group for web standards, is looking to change all that. By using a new class of web servers, the W3C is looking to develop a web-based standard that will act as the connective tissue between systems. Of course, a channel for communication is not all that useful unless all involved parties are speaking in a mutually comprehensible language. To that end, the W3C has proposed a conceptual framework that will function as a “common tongue” for IoT networks to talk to each other.

The Web of Things Framework will allow for flexible locus of network control and precise synchronization of behavior where needed, such as with factory robots and process control. According to a W3C blogger Dave Raggett, “The use of Web technologies is expected to dramatically reduce the cost for implementing and deploying IoT services. Companies will be able to realize savings in operational costs, but just as important, companies will have increased flexibility for rapidly reconfiguring manufacturing processes, and a reduction in time from design to shipping of new products.” Needless to say, this will enable a very agile production schema, wherein products can be manufactured to fit a customer’s specific requirements, rather than a “one size fits all” approach to mass production.

Of course, IoT technologies come in a wide variety of applications with many different requirements and specifications. This makes an “adaption layer” necessary for all devices to be able to connect to the Web of Things Framework. This adaption layer makes it possible to build robust systems that may feature complex configures at a base level without being overly constrained by minor changes on the lower layers. This will also allow standardized security and privacy measures to be deployed on IoT systems without the challenges of incompatibility, which among other issues, leaves certain nodes vulnerable.

Raggett says that the flexibility of the Framework will also support user-crafted IoT devices and services: “With the success of open source software and the advent of open hardware, there is a huge opportunity for hobbyists and members of the “maker” community to get involved and help build momentum around open standards for the Web of Things.”

Those interested in being involved with the W3C’s development of IoT standards are welcome to join the W3C’s Web of Things Interest Group as well as a corresponding Working Group to advance the conversation of open standards in IoT development. Open Standards will be critical to the success of the Internet of Things, and advocates of the Open Stand Principles are needed at the table.

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