and … a bit of History…

My turn to Welcome you (Vlad’s always first, gosh that guy is just too quick for me!) to the Web of Things (or WOT for the insiders).

We’ve been talking about that blog for almost a year now but a number and we’ve been working for an even longer while on topics around the Web of Things. I started in 2006 by exploring the wide world of RFID there already, rather than looking at connecting one reader to a computer we explored ways of considering a global world of tagged objects being observed at a million places a day. Back in 2004 I worked on the RFIDLocator project together with Sun Microsystems and their RFIDMiddleware. There, as many, we were exploring ways to infer interesting patterns from loads of RFID data, like: “where did our 30’000 Euros defibrillator go?” Integration of this data with other apps there was provided by means of Java messaging queues (JMS). I sticked with what people now call the Internet of Things for a while. During this time, Vlad was going into sensor networks and swarm intelligence. He was working patterns of real-world data as well but using sensor to recognize bird songs at UCLA. Integration with other apps there meant: “get Vlad and he’ll show you how!”. A while later, 2006 I started experiencing with sensor networks at Lancaster University (UK), trying to use them to enable more spontaneous interactions between our mobile companions and the real world of everyday devices. Integration there sounded like: “RelateGateways would be a great stuff if we get everyone to program everything in Java and plug ultra sound sensors to his mobile phone.” (dixit a consultant who actually believed in selling the system as is, um…)

2007 we were both back in Switzerland working at SAP Research. Integration there was (and is) actually our focus. Integration of real-world devices (mainly sensor networks and machines) with Enterprise Application (i.e. BIG and rather complicated stuff) by means of web services (SOAP, WSDL and the WS-* like using DPWS to be accurate). A really nice idea but there integration (still) means: “get a lot of ram for your washing machine, it’s gonna need it to offer web services, and oh, btw, get an IT specialist to couple it with you coffee maker”.

And then, I remember Vlad saying, what would be cool would actually be able to have a prototyping platform for normal (i.e. non-geeks) people to be able to consume the physical world from the virtual space from the web. I remember bouncing on that, having in mind a talk at Jazoon where a guy (today rather a super-star) called Roy Fielding presented the idea of REST. From then on we never stopped talking about applying such approaches to things rather than websites. Pushing the web to the physical world or the physical world to the web, with this vision that one day combining services on devices is going to be as nice as mashing up websites is today, the day of physical mashups!

Of course after that rather ego-centric post I should say we are not the only ones with that vision, neither were we the first! And that’s actually what the Web of Things blog (or platform) should be about bringing physical-to-digital geeks and researchers together, blogging, experiencing, explaining and debating!


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