A group trying to make it easier for Internet of Things devices and services to work together has won £1.6m in funding from the UK government's Technology Strategy Board.
The group of 40 companies — including BT, ARM, and KPMG — is working on a standard for IoT interoperability called HyperCat. The new funding adds to the £6.4m the government has already spent on the project.
The idea behind IoT is that everyday items such as thermostats or plant pots can be networked to create new types of services — at a trivial level, for example, a plant pot could tell a thermostat to turn off the heating because the plants were drying out. However, IoT has great potential to enable smart cities and other forms of automation too.
However, making IoT devices communicate is a challenge. While they may collect or analyse similar types of data, such as temperature, they all record it in different ways.
HyperCat is an open catalogue specification that allows applications to discover and make sense of data automatically. Because HyperCat offers a common approach to describing the information held on data hubs, it could help developers to find the data relevant to their specific needs more quickly and easily, and the group hopes it can become one of the foundations of the IoT.
"In the same way that Sir Tim Berners-Lee's world wide web specification unlocked the potential of the internet, the HyperCat specification will unlock the full potential of the internet of things by creating a world wide web for machines," the group said.
Justin Anderson, CEO of Flexeye, the company leading the consortium, said: "The UK has an opportunity now, through HyperCat, to be central to the IoT revolution, levelling the playing field with the ubiquitous American giants."
Amyas Philips, head of ARM's internet of things research group, said: "Increasing the utility of embedded connected devices will benefit everyone, and the HyperCat consortium has put itself in an excellent position to build momentum for this web-friendly IoT technology."
The British Standards Institute will publish the consortium's HyperCat standard as an independent 'Publicly Available Specification' in 2015.
The UK government is keen to get a head start on IoT technology. It has promised £73m in funding for projects such as HyperCat and work on smart cities.