The Internet of Things
Wikipedia defines The Internet of Things (IoT, sometimes Internet of Everything) as the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity to enable objects to exchange data with the manufacturer, operators and/or other connected devices through Internet. The Internet of Things allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructures, creating opportunities for more direct integration between the physical world and computer-based systems, thus resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to operate together within existing Internet infrastructure. Things, in the IoT, can refer to a wide variety of devices such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, electric clams in coastal waters, automobiles with built-in sensors, or field operation devices that assist firefighters in search and rescue. These devices collect useful data with the help of various existing technologies and then autonomously flow the data between other devices. Current market examples include smart thermostat systems and washer/dryers that use Wi-Fi for remote monitoring.
Most connected things have technical and environmental constraints that prevents them from using traditional operating systems as we know them on desktops. Those constraints can be: no keyboard/screen, limited hardware resources, limited battery, automatic configuration, ruggedized environments, etc. Not only do these constraints create significant technical challenges by themselves, but furthermore in a context where number of units are regularly counted in millions. The key factor is a global integration process that allows everything to remain fluid, simple and cheap to deploy, both for developers and for end-users.
Every major analyst group like Gartner or Forbes agrees that IoT is going to be the most important Internet market over the next coming years. Besides the plethora of new application areas for Internet connected automation to expand to, IoT is also expected to generate large amounts of data from diverse locations. These loacations are aggregated very quickly, thereby increasing the need to better index, store and process such data. Market growth is evaluated to be over 20% for the coming years with a potential of 50 billion objects by 2020.
Origin of the Project
The IoT.bzh project is directly issued from a historical presence of INTEL's R&D teams in Vannes [Brittany, France]. INTEL in Brittany started through WindRiver System that established its first European R&D in Vannes
during the '90s to work on embedded operating systems. More recently in 2012, a new team was established: this new team focused on the Linux/Tizen project, and contributed significantly to the expansion of Tizen presence into automotive industries by producing Tizen/IVI.
Due to a strategic shift, INTEL chose to reduce its efforts on the custom Linux distribution dedicated to vertical market to refocus its resources on providing the base components needed by the IoT market. INTEL's Tizen team in Vannes froze a final version of Tizen by end of June 2015 to refocus on IoT-OS. This change in INTEL objectives is not without issues that were created within the Tizen developers community. IOT.BZH took over every INTEL's public contributions right before the Vannes Tizen team shut down and hired back most key developers. As of today, IOT.BZH has all the necessary skills and equipment for maintenance on behalf of constructors and developers dedicated Linux distributions tailors to specific hardware and vertical markets.
Long term success of a project based on "OpenSource" components resides on the capability to get its patches and improvements to be accepted upstream by the OpenSource community. This can only happen through well-known individuals, who are clearly identified and respected as experts within the community of developers. OpenSource development imposes teams with technical leaders that are officially known, accepted and respected as main contributors. Becoming accepted by the community can take years and starting an OpenSource team without a strong and solid base of already well respected technical individual remains hard, if not impossible. IOT.BZH was given through INTEL strategy shift a unique opportunity to start from scratch with a "ready to go" team base of well known and respected developers. This new team has all
the necessary skills to continue the effort started by INTEL in automotive, telecoms or TV market, as well as to expand to other IoT sectors like medical, military, marine, etc.
IOT.BZH provides on behalf of constructors and developers "ready to play" Linux distributions dedicated and tailored to specific vertical markets and/or hardware equipments. These distributions are designed to simplify customer experiences when they start developing applications.
- Provide distributions responding to vertical market specification like "AGL/Genivi' in the automotive industries.
- Assure that multiple components used to build a given distribution integrate smoothly.
- Collaborate with normative group such as AGL/Genivi to make sure that requested technical features are able to be implemented at an acceptable cost.
- Continuous integration: OpenSource components come from multiple sources. Both their APIs and functionalities upgrade independently, this without any global consistency. Depending on the targeted market, a given distribution is typically composed of 500 to 1000 independent packages, and each package has its own life management cycle. Every distribution needs to be rebuilt continuously each time one of its composing package is updated. The end goal is to guarantee the global coherency of each distribution and the alignment of the individual composing packages with the upstream versions.
- Collaborate with the community to get patches and contributions accepted within projects main stream development tree. Making the effort to get patches and modifications accepted by the community is critical in the long run. Until a patch is accepted within the main tree, it is necessary to back-port it for each new version of the package.