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Google's latest IoT standards push: "Open Web Of Things"

Your new favorite Internet Of Things standards initiative:

Google launched a research program on Friday called the “Open Web Of Things”, which aims to develop open standards related to IoT that not only facilitate ease of use, but also ensure that privacy and security measures are crucial components of all IoT work going forward.

From the blog post by Vint Cerf (Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist), Roy Want and Max Senges (of Google Research):

While the Internet of Things (IoT) conjures a vision of “anytime, any place” connectivity for all things, the realization is complex given the need to work across interconnected and heterogeneous systems, and the special considerations needed for security, privacy, and safety. 

To that end, Google is offering research grants to “academics, Google experts and potentially other parties” who can provide proposals that focus three areas: user interface and application development, privacy & security, and systems & protocols research:

Importantly, we are open to new and unorthodox solutions in all three of these areas, for example, novel interactions, usable security models, and new approaches for open standards and evolution of protocols.

How much this will help make sense of the confusing landscape of the IoT is anyone’s guess, since there are already a number of separate IoT-related standards efforts already in play – some of them also from Google. Earlier this year, Google revealed a new networking protocol called Thread intended as a communication standard for household devices.

Google is also working on something called “The Physical Web”, which aims to enable your smart device to automatically communicate with other smart devices (a vending machine, a poster, a bus stop, a rental car, etc) without having to rely on apps to communicate with them. It’s essentially an open-source alternative to NFC, Bluetooth and ZigBee (all of which have their own IoT standards efforts) that uses its own low-power wireless technology: IPv6 over Low power Wireless Personal Area Networks (6LoWPAN).

Then there’s IoT consortiums like the AllSeen Alliance (led by Qualcomm and The Linux Foundation), the Open Interconnect Consortium (led by Intel, which just launched a whole IoT platform last week) and the Industrial Internet Consortium (also founded by Intel, as well as AT&T, Cisco, GE, and IBM), to name just a few.

And then you have the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA), which is developing its Lightweight Machine to Machine (LWM2M) standard, which intends to enable remote management of IoT devices, service enablement and application management. And then there’s oneM2M, the consortium of standards bodies like ARIB (Japan), CCSA (China), ETSI (Europe) and TIA (U.S.) that’s developing M2M/IoT comms standards with industry groups like Broadband Forum, OMA and HGi.

And oh, there’s the IEEE, which launched its P2413 Working Group in July for the purpose of creating a standard architecture for IoT systems (though not to the point of supplanting existing IoT groups).

And so on and so forth and things of that nature generally.

So it’s not clear to what extent Google’s “Open Web Of Things” can help reduce all that complexity. But every little bit helps, I suppose. And the resulting projects should be interesting – even if they end up being silly by some standards.

Meanwhile, researchers will have access to Google’s hardware, software and systems to conduct their research. The proposal deadline is January 21, 2015. 

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