An App Store for the Internet of Things
German Federal Ministry of Education and Research Sponsors Computer Science Project at Freie Universität Berlin and Hamburg University of Applied Sciences with 1.8 Million Euros
№ 076/2017 from Apr 12, 2017
The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding a computer science project at Freie Universität Berlin and the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences with roughly 1.8 million euros to set up an app store for the so-called Internet of Things. The term "Internet of Things" refers to the intelligent networking of devices and machines, which is an important technological trend. Business consultants predict that in 2020 in Germany, 23 billion euros will be spent in this branch. To be successful, however, open solutions are needed for the simple exchange of programs. So far, this is lacking, especially for microcomputers. At Freie Universität the grant will support the groups of two computer science professors, Dr. Jochen Schiller and Dr. Matthias Wählisch.
The project is being coordinated by Prof. Dr. Matthias Wählisch. The innovator of the team is Manfred Hauswirth, a professor and director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication System (FOKUS) in Berlin. The group is being supported by Profund Innovation, the service facility for the transfer of knowledge and technology in the Research Division at Freie Universität Berlin.
The aim of the new project is to develop a RIOT app store, or "RAPstore," which distributes software for the Internet of Things analogously to the better-known mobile app stores (such as Google Play). To make things as easy as possible for free developers, the project partners also want to provide ready-made building blocks, for example, for secure uploading of applications or for data services. They intend to create a platform where large and small suppliers, i.e., technologically, socially, or economically oriented participants can develop successfully. The funding for the three-year project is from the "VIP + Validation of the Innovative Potential of Scientific Research" program of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research.
Sensors and microcomputers are becoming more and more commonplace in everyday objects or industrial equipment, such as microchips in running shoes or pill boxes that "remember" whether the patient’s daily dose has been taken. In smart cars, smart homes, and entire smart cities, miniature computers are becoming increasingly networked. The embedded devices are small, have low storage and computing capacity, usually run on batteries, and require extremely high energy efficiency. In order to be flexible, it should be as easy to upload them with different applications as it is to load programs on computers and applications on smartphones. Previous approaches do not allow this because the chips in the devices would need a uniform operating system, which new applications could be built on. Currently, manufacturers are using so-called silos, closed systems, that cannot be used with new programs at will. This results in a fragmented market that inhibits rather than supports the development of innovative applications.
The open operating system RIOT, on the other hand, offers a platform independent of devices and manufacturers for applications on the Internet of Things. The open source project was initiated in 2013 by Freie Universität Berlin, the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, and the French research institute INRIA. More than 100 developers worldwide are currently working on improving RIOT. It may be used free of charge, but in contrast to other open programs, copyrighted program parts may also be combined with free software. Without having to modify the operating system itself, new commercial applications for IoT devices can be developed and placed on the market.
With the "VIP + Validation of the Innovative Potential of Scientific Research" program, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research aims to help advances in research and development get into the market faster. Through validation, the innovative potentials of research results are systematically demonstrated, and possible applications are developed.