Startup idea: Develop Internet of Things (IoT) on Mozilla


Technologists and business leaders are watching for innovative Internet of Things (IoT) applications in wearables, smartphones, smart meters, vehicles, factories, machines and other places where imagination takes us. IoT holds a lot of promise in machine-to-machine communication and use of ‘smart’ devices. Our Editor, Mohan, examined the IoT trends in a recent report of emerging technologies (link).

Startups and entrepreneurs looking to develop IoT solutions will find the recent announcement from Mozilla  interesting. (ref: “Project Things” – An open framework for connecting your devices to the web.)

The tech oligopoly – Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft – have announced their own standard for connected devices for businesses and at home.They are obviously hoping that wider adoption of their framework will enable them to control the future direction of adoption. Mozilla’s announcement will drive a set of frameworks and open standards so that we don’t end up with an internet of things controlled by big tech companies.

Internet of Things (IoT) devices have become more popular over the last few years, but there is no single standard for how these devices should talk to each other. Each vendor typically creates a custom application that only works with their own brand. If the future of connected IoT devices continues to involve proprietary solutions, then costs will stay high, while the market remains fragmented and slow to grow. Consumers should not be locked into a specific product, brand, or platform. This will only lead to paying premium prices for something as simple as a “smart light bulb”.

We believe the future of connected devices should be more like the open web. The future should be decentralized, and should put the power and control into the hands of the people who use those devices. This is why we are committed to defining open standards and frameworks.

 

Mozilla hopes that their open-source IoT framework will make it easy for anyone to get started on building their own Things Gateway to control their devices. Some of the key features available include:

  • The ability to use the microphone on your computer to issue voice commands
  • A rules engine for setting ‘If this, then that’ logic for how devices interact with each other
  • A floor-plan view to lay out devices on a map of your home
  • Additional device type support, such as smart plugs, dimmable and colored lights, multi-level switches and sensors, and “virtual” versions of them, in case you don’t have a real device
  • An all-new add-on system for supporting new protocols and devices
  • A new system for safely authorizing third-party applications (using OAuth

 

Opportunity for startups

An article in TechCrunch highlights a few opportunities for developers

  • Mozilla wants to create an open standard with the W3C around the Web of Things. The idea is that accessory makers and service providers should use the same standard to make devices talk to each other.
  • Use the Web of Things Gateway so that you can replace your Amazon Echo, Philips Hue hub, Apple TV and Google Home with an open device. You can already create a gateway using a Raspberry Pi 3, and ZigBee and Z-Wave USB dongles.
  • Mozilla is creating the interface to control your connected devices. You can add Mozilla’s progressive web app to your smartphone home screen and control your home. For instance, you can use your voice to turn on the lights, create IFTTT-style rules to automate your house, add a floor-plan to lay out your devices and more.

Startups and entrepreneurs looking for ideas should review the references from Mozilla. Mozilla provides a full walkthrough of how to get started on building your own private smart home using a Raspberry Pi. You can view the complete walkthrough here.

If you have questions, or you would like to get involved with the project you can join the #iot channel on irc.mozilla.org and participate in the development on GitHub. You can also follow @MozillaIoT on twitter for the latest news.

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