The Future of the Web of Things
As more and more of the objects, or “things” we interact with in daily life become “smart”--that is, having internet connectivity and computing capability--we see the rise of what has been termed the “Internet of Things.” Put simply, the Internet of Things is the name for the rapidly approaching scenario in which a large number of the “things” that we encounter in our daily lives--from home appliances to automobiles to animals or human beings implanted with a biochip transponder--will have internet connectivity and will be able to send and receive data over a network, oftentimes interacting automatically without the necessity of human commands.
A Little Background
As we mentioned, in the Internet of Things, all of these “things” that are becoming “smart” will be able to communicate with one another and even be programmed to make decisions based on both the data that the device itself has collected and the data that it receives from other “smart” devices. In order for this vast array of “things” to be connected with the sort of universal functionality envisioned, though, there must be a uniform interface in which they can all be identified and and connected. This is where the Web of Things comes in.
So What is the Web of Things?
The Web of Things is an evolution of the Internet of Things that refers to the adoption of a technology that will enable this sort of global functionality among “smart” devices. So far, developments toward the Web of Things have largely been working toward the goal of using HTTP, the technology that enables the World Wide Web, as an application protocol. In addition to an application protocol, the technical requirements of the development of the Web of Things rely on something called a “REST,” standing for “representational state transfer” for simultaneous and integrated functionality of smart devices. REST is a style of software design for distributed computing systems, and is the leading design model for web services. Finally, the Web of Things model will require Web syndication functionality, examples of which include current technologies like Atom, the current syndication format standard, or Comet, the current push technology standard for web servers.
Put most simply, if the Internet of Things is the scenario in which all of these “smart” devices are connected and function in conjunction with one another, the Web of Things is the real-world technological architecture that will enable that to happen.
The Current State of the Web of Things
While both the Internet of Things and the Web of Things are, to a great degree, conceived of as goals toward which technology is moving, there are real-world example of these sorts of technologies already in use today. One of the prime examples of the use of the type of technology to which “Web of Things” refers is the already widely-used technology of remote DVR scheduling. DIRECTV, for instance, currently allows its subscribers to set their own DVR to record any future programming using their DVR Scheduler service from any PC or mobile device connected to the internet.
Additionally, some home security companies like CPI Security offer a system by which users can remotely control their home or business alarm and surveillance systems from their internet-connected PC or mobile device. Those with access to this system can perform a wide range of activities remotely including disarming and arming the alarm system; receiving email notifications for things like door openings; controlling energy sources to make adjustments to lights, appliances, climate control systems; and even viewing a live feed of surveillance cameras.
The Future of the Web of Things
These sorts of technologies are only the beginning of what’s possible as the development of the Web of Things progresses. The majority of the current Web of Things-type still require human command, but much greater automation is realistically possible. It isn’t unreasonable to think that--in the not-too-distant future--your car will be able to send an alert to your home microwave, letting it know that it should begin warming up your lunch when you’re a block from home.
While it’s possible to envision some simple uses for the Web of Things, the possibilities that become available as these technologies progress are nearly boundless, and will only be limited by the imagination and ingenuity of current and future generations of programmers and inventors.