Microsoft Research is continuing to advance work on its home operating system (HomeOS) project. The latest new component is the addition of a new framework, called the Lab of Things (LOT), which allows researchers to better study connected device usage in homes and other physical spaces.
Microsoft is fielding a first beta of the LOT software development kit (SDK), seemingly in conjunction with the opening day of the annual Microsoft Research Faculty Summit event in Redmond. The SDK is available for download from Microsoft's CodePlex site.
Microsoft's HomeOS, as I've blogged before, is what it sounds like: An operating system for connecting in-home hardware. The HomeOS is a "PC-like abstraction" for in-home devices, like lights, TVs, surveillance cameras, gaming consoles, routers, printers, PCs, mobile phones and more. These devices appear to the HomeOS user as peripherals connected to a single PC.
Microsoft Research has been licensing (free; non-commercial use) the HomeOS prototype to academic instituitions "to encourage teaching and research on connected homes and devices," the HomeOS page on Microsoft's Web site says. Microsoft researchers also have tested HomeOS in more than a dozen homes.
The idea with LOT is to get each household to run HomeOS on a dedicated computer (which Microsoft is calling a HomeHub). Once a HomeHub is installed, researchers can more easily monitor and update their pilot sensor/device tests. Collected data gets stored automatically on Windows Azure, and researchers can access that cloud data to analyze the impact of various tests.
Microsoft is touting the HomeOS/LOT combination as especially suited to those doing research in healthcare, energy management and home automation.