Evrythng has submitted a Web of Things standard proposal to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which aims to create a web-based standard to improve IoT interoperability with a global open standard application layer. The W3C was founded back in 1994, by Tim Berners Lee, and today works towards on developing standards for the web.
Following three years of collaboration between the W3C, IBM, and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center for the European COMPOSE research program, Evrythng was tasked with turning the group’s findings into a usable product – which is now the Web Thing Model that the W3C Interest Group has submitted for consideration. You can read more through the document here.
The COMPOSE project was begun in November 2012, and intended to enable new services that could integrate real and virtual worlds by converging the IoT with the “Internet of Services,” with the goal of creating an “open and scalable marketplace infrastructure, in which smart objects are associated to services that can be combined, managed, and integrated in a standardized way to easily and quickly build innovative applications.” The result of this ambition is the Web Thing Model.
As part of the Web of Things Interest Group (the stage before the Working Group that will finalize the proposal), Evrythng’s cofounder and CTO, Dominique Guinard, and fellow cofounder and EVP of R&D, Vlad Trifa, headed up the company’s work on the proposal. The goal is to create another open web standard, like HTTP and WebSockets, in order to bring physical objects into the cloud applications that will power the IoT. Essentially, this is an API for linking physical things and the cloud.
Key to the project is network and transport protocol independence, meaning that the standard would be PHY agnostic, and therefore support all the usual suspects in the IoT – from cellular, WiFi and Bluetooth, to ZigBee and Z-Wave, and onto the less well-known protocols like 6LoWPAN, Thread, and LPWANs like LoRa and Sigfox.
The second main thrust of the new proposal is the use of web protocols, including HTTP, WebSockets, and JSON, in order to achieve that transport layer agnosticism. Citing these web protocols as the critical building blocks, Evrythng advocates that the third component of the proposed standard is a clearly defined open framework that models physical objects and their interactions – so that a common global language emerges that allows the different players to cooperate more easily in their designs and operations.
We asked Guinard what the likely time to market for the Web Thing Model would be, and he said that the W3C would likely standardize it in early 2016, and that products would likely begin appearing around 12-months later. While that may sound like a long time, for the group that took so long to develop HTML5, it looks like a rather quick turnaround. Guinard noted that the W3C is under pressure to act quickly.
As the approach focuses on the application layer, Guinard likens it to an open version of Apple’s HomeKit or Nest’s Weave – application frameworks that support multiple physical layers, and ensure interoperability by defining the application layer interactions. He added that the W3C has no interest in defining another PHY.
Guinard explained: “The architecture of the IoT is currently a complex labyrinth of fragmented standards and alliances. This makes neutral institutions such as the W3C vital to ensure that no single, commercial interest dominates the space. Universal standards are essential; not only to provide a fair marketplace, but also to help the IoT achieve its full potential. By operating in silos, devices are making it much harder to work together to deliver a coherent, valuable user experience. This is why EVRYTHNG has proposed an entirely Web standards based approach.”
Trifa added: “The adoption of a simple and uniform taxonomy that provides a set way of describing Things would enable all applications to discover and communicate with a myriad of things without the need for individual custom codes. Standardization would mean an IoT without barriers where anything is possible.”