Scientists push to bring genuine interoperability to IoT
For the Internet of Things to truly hit the mainstream, the billions of connected devices, applications and gateways must be able to communicate and interact seamlessly. Researchers at TUT are developing a secure and energy-efficient system for managing IoT devices and gateways.
Doctoral student Bill Silverajan from the Laboratory of Pervasive Computing at TUT is developing a management system that allows all the devices and gateways across the Internet of Things to communicate with one another.
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The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of networks and expected to reach more than 20 billion devices by 2020, even without counting smartphones, tablets or laptops.
With numerous standards and solutions deployed in different markets, such as the healthcare and transport sectors, the development of new commercial IoT applications and services is expensive and arduous. Interoperability and connectivity are still major challenges for IoT developers.
“The third challenge is security. IoT is now as vulnerable as computers were 20 years ago,” says Bill Silverajan, who is working towards a doctoral degree in the Laboratory of Pervasive Computing at Tampere University of Technology (TUT).
Building a generic IoT platform
TUT, telecom giant Ericsson, Aalto University and Finland-based Bittium are partners in a three-year research programme funded by EIT Digital called ‘Advanced Connectivity Platform for Vertical Segment” (ACTIVE). The goal is to build a commercially viable, generic connectivity or middle-ware platform that enables the fragmented IoT ecosystem to speak the same language.
“The platform supports service and application developers and facilitates the flow of information across markets and segments without manufacturers and services providers having to separately agree on interoperability in advance,” says Silverajan.
“It is also important to ensure that any new solutions comply with existing industrial and network standards.”
Manageability for IoT devices and gateways
TUT’s responsibility within the ACTIVE programme is the development of IoT gateway and device management. The project is headed by Bill Silverajan.
“One of our main tasks is the development of semantic data models for IoT. For example, when a server receives sensor data from different devices, data models enable the server to identify the device and understand the meaning of the data. The server must also respond appropriately and know whether to update software or features and how to configure new devices. This process is called IoT device management. The last part of our project focuses on IoT gateway management. We’re exploring how devices are connected to external networks and further to IoT and how these gateways can be effectively managed,” Silverajan describes.
Researchers at TUT have developed a prototype of IoT gateway management software, which has the added capability to securely send device and gateway data models to a server.
“Our software represents a major leap forward from conventional solutions. Almost no other IoT management platform takes into consideration the importance of gateways for the Internet of Things.”
New system for measuring energy-efficiency
Researchers at TUT have also developed a prototype of a system that measures the energy-efficiency of IoT devices.
“Our energy management module measures the power consumption of, for example, sensors, gateways and car batteries and sends the data to the cloud. The data can then be utilized to adjust the operation of IoT devices or to detect problems and security attacks within the IoT network,” Silverajan says.
Open standards and networking
TUT and Ericsson have invested in the development of open IoT standards. The widespread adoption of uniform standards is the key to reaching the full potential of IoT.
“The ACTIVE research programme is coordinated and funded by EIT Digital, which is a community of prestigious European academic and industrial partners and provides excellent opportunities for networking. This collaboration also allows us to participate in shaping the digital future of our world,” says Professor Jarmo Harju from the Laboratory of Pervasive Computing. He oversees the research conducted at TUT within the ACTIVE programme.