We have talked with Dr. Nathalie Mitton (Inria Research Centre) and Prof. Thomas Noel (University of Strasbourg), General Chair and Co-Chair of InterIoT 2016, 2nd EAI International Conference on Interoperability in IoT (26-28 October 2016, Paris, France). As seasoned researchers in the fields of IoT, Wireless Sensor Networks, and Ubiquitous Computing, they gave us their insights on the importance of interoperable IoT, with regards to the end users, as well as the businesses that develop new hardware and software solutions.
What is the central topic of InterIoT 2016 and why is it important? What is this event’s vision?
We witness a lot of sporadic IoT networks, devices and systems arising today – in cities, in industry, and so on but also at very small grain like in homes or buildings. As it often is with new technologies, each manufacturer has their own way of programming and interfacing it. To allow a wider use and reduce the costs at every level, for each individual user, company, urban community, etc., it is paramount to enable interactions between all these networks and even inside these networks, between devices themselves. This will allow, firstly, a better competitiveness in the market, but also more flexibility in terms of hardware and, above all, enhanced services that could benefit from, first, the data issued from different systems, and then the actions that could be performed by a set of heterogeneous systems.
What have been the recent developments in interoperability in IoT? What are the biggest challenges that this area is currently facing?
Interoperability has become a key concern in major standardization organisms like IETF, ETSI and even in big IoT companies (Google, Cisco, IBM, Oracle, etc) as attested by the creation of different alliances like the ZigBee or LORA alliances and Working Groups at IETF (IETF 6Tisch, IETF DICE or IETF COSE). These groups focus on the definition of common communication patterns and security mechanisms.
Actually, there are several challenges slowing the implementation down. The most important of them is the large set of heterogeneous hardware, networks and systems. IoT devices feature different hardware capacities in terms of memory storage, CPU, and energy, and follow different mobility policies. Some are static, some move in a random way, while others follow predictive or fixed mobility patterns. In the same way, they do not all benefit from the same connectivity in terms of throughput and time of connections. Also, each device may use its own language to communicate and to exchange data. There is thus a need to find common standards to allow devices to communicate in a comprehensive and secure way.
What are your expectations for InterIoT 2016?
InterIoT will bring practicing engineers and advanced researchers together to share state-of-the-art knowledge concerning interoperability in the IoT, analyse what is needed, and identify the work that lies ahead, to increase the number of interoperable IoT products. It will allow the main actors within IoT to discuss and exchange their points of view in order to move towards interoperability, and establish standards that meet the most expectations in order to be adopted in large, while limiting the frustration.