A consortium of tech firms funded by the UK’s innovation agency has developed a way to let devices discover the data and resources of other connected devices forming part of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Dubbed HyperCat, the specifications are described as a simple-yet-powerful interoperability layer for the IoT. They definine how data should be exposed for other devices on the internet to interrogate and find out what kind of information and capabilities a device has available.
Pilgrim Beart, chief executive of IoT startup 1248, a contributor to the HyperCat standard, said that it will help industry move from “the ‘internet of silos’ to the Internet of Things”.
“Previously, applications were vertically integrated, working only with specific services, which confines data to narrow vertical silos. HyperCat enables apps to discover data across all services, freeing machines from the human programmer bottleneck and allowing a many-to-many relationship to develop, which is the key to IoT,” he added.
HyperCat is, in essence, a hypermedia catalogue format for exposing information about a device in a structured way. Each catalogue comprises an array of uniform resource identifiers (URIs), annotated with metadata. An external device can interrogate the catalogue using standard HTTP requests to discover information about that server.
One example given is that an application concerned only with temperature measurements can use HyperCat to search for and pull out this type of data, even though it might be buried amongst other data that the application may not understand.
HyperCat has been developed by the Open IoT group, one of eight such projects funded by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board.
Andrew Tyrer, digital lead specialist at the Technology Strategy Board, commented: “We’re delighted that so many companies managed to co-operate so successfully and are excited by the potential for HyperCat in the future to put the UK at the forefront of IoT development and deployment.”
Many big-name companies are participants in one or more of the eight projects funded by the Technology Strategy Board, including Intel, ARM, IBM UK, BT, BalfourBeatty and EDF Energy.