Connecting the Internet of Things to the marketplace
Researchers with the BUTLER project have built a platform to encourage expert cooperation and make the Internet of Things an everyday reality.
The achievements of a landmark EU-funded initiative designed to expand the Internet of Things (IoT) in a cooperative and seamless manner have been published. The three-year BUTLER project, officially completed in October 2014, launched a portal to bring together new technologies and devices in order to fully exploit the potential of IoT.
As a result, new connected solutions can now be developed that have the potential to reach market in a remarkably short space of time.
The IoT is the common term used to describe the network of physical objects (or ‘things’) that have been embedded with electronics, software and sensors, and which can connect with other devices through the internet. These devices collect useful data, which then autonomously flows between other devices.
Current examples already on the market include smart thermostat systems and washer/dryers that utilise wi-fi for remote monitoring. Future applications include heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals and cars with built-in sensors. The interconnection of such embedded devices is expected to usher in an era of automation across numerous fields, improving our quality of life.
A key challenge however has been ensuring that adequate infrastructure is in place to cope with the anticipated increase in data flows, and that compatibility between devices and objects exists. The BUTLER project, which received EUR 9.7 million in EU funding, launched an Open Platform portal in order to provide a meeting place for IoT application technologies, and to ensure cooperation and coordination as IoT expands.
The portal also documents the interoperability of innovations, and makes reference to existing use cases. It was built with the express purpose of becoming the point of reference in the field of IoT, long after this project’s official completion.
The Open Platform has already led to new links forged between consortium members, and helped to match device providers with viable solutions to bring innovations to market. Some technologies developed through the platform are at the stage of field trials. This includes the large scale deployment in the Spanish city of Santander of a ‘Smart Shopping’ application.
This system is able to alert merchants about the optimal moments for sending notifications to citizens based on an analysis of the urban environment, incorporating the city’s agenda, parking information, banking information and environmental data.
The BUTLER project has also produced a comprehensive analysis of ethics, privacy and data protection issues related to IoT applications. The end result is a set of guidelines that provide a complete framework for privacy-aware and user-oriented IoT technologies. The socioeconomic impact of IoT development has also been investigated, along with obstacles to large scale deployment of IoT.
The comprehensive nature of the BUTLER project has enabled it to make a major contribution to IoT research in Europe. Project partners have been published in more than 85 peer reviewed conferences, 18 peer reviewed journals and filed several patents.