Casagras takes a step towards defining the ‘Internet of Things’

The ‘Internet of Things’ is one of those terms that everyone vaguely understands — but is almost impossible to describe exactly. At a meeting in Shanghai last week, members of the Casagras project sat down to thrash out a definition and a vision statement that would be acceptable to all.

DEFINING MOMENT: Project partners agreed a vision statement for 'the internet of things' last week in Shanghai
DEFINING MOMENT: Project partners agreed a vision statement for 'the internet of things' last week in Shanghai

Partners from the Casagras project working on standardisation issues for the Internet of Things (IoT) have got together to come up with a mutually agreed vision statement and a definition that could be used to help move forward work on the topic.

Professor Anthony Furness, CTO of the European Centre of Excellence for AIDC and Casagras’ technical co-ordinator drafted the technical definition of the Internet of Things:

“A global network infrastructure, linking physical and virtual objects through the exploitation of data capture and communications capabilities. This infrastructure includes existing and evolving internet and network developments. It will offer specific object-identification, sensor and connection capability as the basis for the development of independent federated services and applications. These will be characterised by a high degree of autonomous data capture, event transfer, network connectivity and interoperability.”

With its ability to link rfid tags to the internet via the mobile communications network, NFC is widely seen as a key enabling technology for the Internet of Things, but work on creating a global standard is in its very early days.

At the Casagras meeting the partners agreed that global coding would be one of the most important considerations and challenges. It is critical, the partners say, “that the approach to this issue should accommodate legacy coding systems and provide an on-going basis for global coding with appropriate registration and support capability, linking too with issues of governance and revenue models.”

The vision statement is rather broader in concept — but reassuringly positive:

“A world where ‘things’ can automatically communicate to computers and each other, providing services for the benefits of human kind.”

“We needed a simple one sentence ‘vision statement’ which would explain the potential of the Internet of Things to the widest possible global audience,” explained Ian Smith, president of AIM UK (the Association for Automatic Identification and Mobile Data Capture) and Casagras’ project co-ordinator.

The group published an interim report in September (you can download a pdf here) and a series of seven white papers on the Internet of Things is due to be pubished in the first half of 2009. Casagras is due to present its final report and recommendations in June 2009.