The Internet of Things (IoT) is a broad term used to imply a movement from connected PCs to connected mobile devices to now connected objects in our daily lives. Early ideas of what IoT would look like usually involved something like your refrigerator tweeting when you were out of milk using cutting edge technology at the time (Twitter on our smartphones) and coupled it with an everyday object (a refrigerator with an IP address). Having your fridge access your social networks to give you updates may not seem technologically significant, but there is a bigger theme of social interaction with connected Things that is worth taking a deeper look at.
When IoT products began taking their first baby steps, figuring out issues with connectivity was a large hurdle that has only recently been overcome with the numerous IoT platforms available today. The next step of finding ways for these individually connected things to communicate and discover one another is still very much a work in progress. There are numerous local IoT discovery protocols vying for dominance, but in the meantime there are analogies to social networks for connecting humans that also apply to connected objects.
In social networks like Facebook, we communicate with different people depending on the context of what groups we associate them with: family, work friends, college alumni, hiking buddies, etc. This idea of context-awareness, collaboration and communication also extends to connected things. In fact, Luigi Aztori and his colleagues at the University of Cagliari in Italy have been putting together a Social IoT (SIoT) framework to formalize the different ways objects can form relationships with other objects. Their model describes five different unique relationships:
- Ownership Object Relationship — created between objects that belong to the same owner
- Co-location Object Relationship — created between stationary devices located in the same place
- Parental Object Relationship — created between objects of the same model or producer
- Co-Work Object Relationship — created between objects that interact with each other in the same environment
- Social Object Relationship — created as a consequence of frequent interaction between objects
Some of these relationships are created before a connected product is purchased by someone. For example, parental object and ownership object properties are designed into the software so that entity relationship handling and grouping is robust, secure and scalable. Others such as social object relationships require intelligent decision making and contextual awareness over time in order to set interaction rules.
This is all theoretically interesting, but in my next post we’ll take it a step further by applying these concepts to an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) scenario.
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About the Author
Sean has worked on several Internet of Things and robotics startups over the past decade, and somehow snuck onto a Top 100 IoT Influencers list. He has a PhD in Cognitive & Neural Systems and loves to ponder what a smarter, more connected Sawyer might look like one day.