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Open Source Protocols and Architectures to Fix the Internet of Things

Project: The Thing System

Everyday objects are becoming smarter. In ten years’ time, every piece of clothing you own, every piece of jewellery you wear, and every thing you carry with you will be measuring, weighing and calculating your life. In ten years, the world — your world — will be full of sensors.

The problem? The things are becoming smarter, but they’re also becoming selfish. Your lightbulbs aren’t talking to your media centre, your media centre isn’t talking to your blinds, and nobody is talking to the thermostat. Instead of talking to each other, everything is talking to you—you’ve ended up as a mechanical turk inside someone else’s software.

That situation can’t continue, we need to fix the Internet of Things. As our computing continues its diffusion out into the environment we need our things to work together. The things have to become not just smarter, but more co-operative, they need to become anticipatory rather than reactive.

Right now we have not so much an Internet of Things, but a series of Islands of Things. I present open source protocols and architectures that will help solve this trouble with the Internet of Things.

Alasdair Allan

Alasdair Allan is a Scientist, Author, Hacker and Tinkerer, who is currently thinking hard about how to fix the Internet of Things which he thinks is broken.

He is the author of a number of books, and from time to time he also stands in front of cameras. You can often find him at conferences talking about interesting things, or deploying sensors to measure them. Last year he rolled out a mesh network of five hundred sensors motes covering the entire of Moscone West during Google I/O. He's still recovering.

He sporadically writes blog posts about things that interest him, or more frequently provides commentary in 140 characters or less. He is a contributing editor for MAKE magazine, and a contributor to the O'Reilly Radar.

A few years ago he caused a privacy scandal by uncovering that your iPhone was recording your location all the time. This caused several class action lawsuits and a U.S. Senate hearing. Several years on, he still isn't sure what to think about that.

Alasdair is a former academic. As part of his work he built a distributed peer-to-peer network of telescopes that, acting autonomously, reactively scheduled observations of time-critical events. Notable successes included contributing to the detection of what—at the time—was the most distant object yet discovered.