You’ve probably heard of the Internet of Things (IoT), a way of connecting everyday objects, usually in homes, to the cloud, making them “smart-devices”. The IoT as a platform can be used to tether multiple embedded systems together, for example, for a more holistic approach to system monitoring, or to evaluate elevator or aircraft engine performance remotely to schedule necessary maintenance, or even to connect sensors that monitor soil moisture levels of your potted plants so you get a notification on your smartphone when it gets too dry.
Analysts over at Gartner suggest that there will be in excess of 25 billion IoT connected devices by 2020 compared to the 10 billion today. While there are numerous estimation figures from different sources, at least one thing is for certain, the IoT platform is here to stay, and Microsoft has created an SDK called the “Lab of Things” (LoT) to create an experimental platform and help spur developer interest.
“The Lab of Things by the very nature of the design of the platform, allows you to innovate quickly, it allows you test out a design, it tests out ideas very quickly in real environments, collect data, and then see if the design is working or not, which is a very big motivation for innovation” - Arjmand Samuel, Senior Research Manager, Microsoft Research
The software giant has taken it upon themselves to kick start the LoT with a new healthcare solution where motion sensors are integrated into fabrics and clothing to control household objects like lights and fans. A system like this can be particularly useful to those living with paralysis and have limited use of their arm to be able to reach light switches for example. Capacitive sensors that can detect very subtle movements can be integrated in gloves, headbands, bed sheets, pillow covers and wheelchair pads so that their users can control appliances without much effort.
“Lab of Things brings down the barriers of doing research with connected devices, it brings down the barriers by allowing people to deploy at scale, and deploying in diverse geographies, and that is the power of the Lab of Things”- Samuel
The platform is designed to make it as simple and as easy as possible to design solutions with, and can be utilized for development in any IoT use cases and research projects. This can include its use for device prototyping, healthcare, energy management and homes as it works in conjunction with Microsoft’s home operating system ‘HomeOS’. It’s an open platform that is not limited to Windows-based devices and is also currently being used in teaching environments by the University College London. Check out video above and some more at the source link to see some of the achievements the Lab of Things made possible.