Ask five people about the Internet of Things and you’ll get eight different answers. What is IoT, how can it ease our daily lives, our economy and what is possible now and in the future? Answers around these and many more questions were discussed on October 4 at germanies first #barcamp-like event focusing solely about the Internet of Things by invitation of Cassini, a german based management and technology consulting company.
Approximately 130 visitors attended the #IoTCamp in Düsseldorf, capital city of North Rhine-Westphalia in midwestern germany. Representatives of players like Telefonicá, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom also showed up as well as a range of small and medium sized IoT organizations, to discuss the issues the Internet of Things brings along.
As is traditional with #barcamps, also the agenda of the IoTCamp had been finalized with the support of the attendees just minutes before the event was about to start. At these types of events active participation by all is encouraged, and discussions and networking tend to hold a higher importance than PowerPoint slides.
TechBlogger Sascha Pallenberg openend the event semi-live, with a pre-recorded keynote speech he held while walking through his adopted home, Taiwans capital Taipei. “In my office it would just be too boring”, he said. During his roundtrip through the city, Pallenberg presented examples of what kind of smart technology “awaits” Germany – in “probably ten to twenty years”. The emphasis on the wait was meant as a lighthearted dig in the ribs to our progress in Germany, and was well understood by the audience.
When it comes to free WiFi or smart solutions for public transport, Pallenberg demonstrated impressively that Germany is not always as innovative as it wants to be. Even the most simple things, like public power and USB connectors at train or bus stops, a matter of course in Taiwan, are seldom to be seen in Germany.
But the potential for a brave new world in IoT is already there. The IoTCamp was further proof that Germany doesn’t lack ideas and innovational spirit. You just need to let it happen. “Rapid Prototyping”, “IoT for Kids”, “How IoT is changing the world”, “Security and IoT” – just to name a small selection of the sessions – demonstrated how multifaceted the topic IoT really is. And it’s interesting to see how the comprehension still differs. For some IoT takes place in the cloud, others prefer connection via SIM card, and others are happy with some nifty apps for their smartphone.
The definition of IoT
So what is this Internet of Things everybody is so excited about? Is it about enabling connections? Is it about storing data in the cloud? Is it about remote controlling a device via smartphone? Yes and no. In our opinion it’s a bit of everything of the above plus more. It’s the mixture that settles the deal. A little bit of everything, combined in an intelligent manner. Or as the late Marc D. Weiser, one of the thought leaders of IoT or “ubiquitous computing”, as he called it, said: “The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.”
When we finally manage to bring devices to do their job “silently” and in the “background” to solve daily challenges, we may just have reached a successful “Internet of Things”.
Technology needs to step out of sight
To make this possible, we at Lemonbeat believe in a common language for literally every “thing” within the world of IoT. A superordinated vocabulary that every device should be able to understand. It could make devices more independent of an actual connection to a gateway or server, it could enable quicker reaction times, it could function so naturally, we might even forget about it.
Then, and just then, we are one step closer to what the thought leaders of IoT had in mind when they emphasized the importance of a “calm technology” that works for us in the background.
Uday Davuluru, Standardization Manager at Lemonbeat presented during his IoTCamp session Lemonbeats work within the W3C Web of Things Interest Group. In a demo setup, different devices of different origin are connected via Lemonbeat smart Device Language (LsDL), an XML-based markup language on the Application Layer of a protocol stack. LsDL aims to reduce every device down to a series of values. This allows almost any use case or function to be described in a way that can be understood by other devices. Since LsDL can be implemented onto any IP-based stack, it can truly be a universal language for the Internet of Things.
Just like the World Wide Web and it’s markup language HTML connected the different systems within the Internet via one easy to use application, the Webbrowser, LsDL aims to connect all the different IoT devices via one easy to use language.
Sure, it still might be a long way to go. But with the W3C and our work within the Web of Things Interest Group, we’re already a big step forward.