Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

UK IoT initiative could spur design of energy-saving M2M services

Iain Morris
July 1, 2014
A consortium of UK technology companies has unveiled an Internet of Things (IoT) specification designed to support the development of interoperable connected products and applications that could deliver new energy services and savings to customers.

Having received £6.4 million ($10.9 million) in funding from UK innovation agency the Technology Strategy Board, the consortium includes the likes of semiconductor designer ARM (Cambridge, UK) and fixed-line telecoms incumbent BT (London, UK) and says it has been working to “break down vertical data silos” and find a way for products and applications to more easily communicate with one another.

Branded HyperCat, the specification it has developed allows applications to explore what data and resources are available on a specific data hub or to search for particular types of resource across the internet.

For instance, if an application understands only temperature measurements, HyperCat allows it to search for that kind of data, which may be buried among other data the application is not able to read.

“HyperCat has been designed to move us from the Internet of Silos to the Internet of Things,” explains Pilgrim Beart, the chief executive of IoT start-up 1248 (Cambridge, UK).

“Previously, applications were vertically-integrated, working only with specific services, which confines data to narrow vertical silos,” added Beart. “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.”

ARM says it is already using HyperCat at its Cambridge headquarters to share data on office occupancy, energy consumption and car park lighting between different applications.

The company says that be linking its infrastructure in real time it has been able to reduce energy costs and generate information on external temperature data that others can use.

“This is a research project but it has proven tangible benefits that consumers and enterprises can gain from a more connected world,” said Amyas Phillips, IoT research entrepreneur at ARM.

IBM’s (Armonk, NY, USA) UK arm, which is also involved in the consortium, says the HyperCat specification has allowed it to create whole new applications much more quickly than was previously possible.

“For example, we can take illumination data from streetlights belonging to another project cluster and display it on our own application,” said Andy Stanford-Clark, master inventor at IBM UK. “Being able to explore the HyperCat metadata in human and machine readable formats makes it easy to mash-up new applications.”

The Technology Strategy Board claims that HyperCat has the potential to put the UK at the forefront of IoT development and deployment.
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