Saturated sensors! A ‘living lab’ for Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is coming alive. Sort of. Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh is planning to turn its campus into a so-called living lab. It’s going to saturate its campus with sensors!

Anind Dey (right), director of HCII,  is lead investigator on the project

Anind Dey (right), director of HCII,
is lead investigator on the project

Funded by Google as part of a multi-university plan, it aims to create a platform for internet-connected sensors, gadgets and buildings to communicate with one another. It’s serious stuff.

“The goal will be to radically enhance human-to-human and human-to-computer interaction through a large-scale deployment of the internet of things (IoT) that ensures privacy, accommodates new features over time and enables people to readily design applications for their own use,” said Anind Dey, lead investigator and director of CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute.

CMU researchers will work with colleagues at Cornell, Stanford, Illinois and Google to create GIoTTO, a platform to support IoT applications.

Initial plans include the development of sensors that are inexpensive and easy to deploy, new middleware to facilitate app development and manage privacy and security, and new tools that enable end users to develop their own IoT experiences.

“We funded the Open Web of Things expedition to encourage universities to explore various aspects of system design that could help enable the internet of things,” said Maggie Johnson, director of university relations for Google.

“We’ve chosen Carnegie Mellon to lead because of their vision for a living laboratory, validating system design through daily use. Cornell, Illinois and Stanford were selected to join based on their unique approaches for tackling critical challenges related to privacy and security, systems and protocols and HCI,” she said.

Google initially will provide $500,000 to CMU to launch the project. By creating open IoT technology that can be freely shared and enhanced, Google and the researchers hope to accelerate innovation and adoption of the IoT.

PhD student Adrian deFreitas uses Impromptu, a system that accesses shared apps only when needed, such as a public transit app when the user is standing near a bus stop

PhD student Adrian deFreitas uses Impromptu, a system that accesses shared apps only when needed, such as a public transit app when the user is standing near a bus stop

“An early milestone will include the development of our IoT appstore, where any campus member and the larger research community will be able to develop and share an IoT script, action, multiple-sensor feed, or application easily and widely,” Dey said. “Because many novel IoT applications require a critical mass of sensors, CMU will use inexpensive sensors to add IoT capability to ‘dumb’ appliances and environments across the campus.”

The ‘living lab for the IoT’ will saturate the CMU campus with sensors and infrastructure, recruit students and other campus members to create and use IoT apps, and eventually expand these efforts to the wider Pittsburgh community.

“The City of Pittsburgh has emerged as a leader in embracing innovation to enhance city services and improve the quality of life of citizens,” said Pittsburgh mayor William Peduto. “Collaborations with its university community have been an important element of the city’s innovation strategy. ”

The challenge is to create a system of interoperable IoT technology while preserving privacy and ensuring security in the increasingly sensor-filled environment.

Though privacy and security are features of GIoTTO, a second CMU team, led by computer science professor Norman Sadeh, will develop a technology to further protect the privacy of IoT users.

“We will demonstrate the use of personalised privacy assistants that help users configure the many privacy settings necessary to ensure that they retain adequate control over their data,” Sadeh said.

We’ll see how things progress. It has the taste of the future. But what are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.

 


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