Microsoft adds a Lab of Things to its HomeOS

Microsoft adds a Lab of Things to its HomeOS

Summary: Microsoft is continuing to advance its HomeOS research project. Now testers can use a framework, with ties to Windows Azure, to more easily monitor and update their device and sensor tests.


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.

Topics: Emerging Tech, Cloud, Health, Microsoft, Mobility


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Makes sense

    I work in the office furniture industry and part of the products and services we provide for architects and designers for new installations are how to manage electronic systems in the buildings such as lighting, projectors, etc. Not sure if our engineers are even aware of this Microsoft technology, will have to give them a heads up.

    Thanks for showing me something I did not know today :)
    Rann Xeroxx
  • I am

    An industrial automation professional and home automation hobbyist and I wasn't aware of it either. Samsung recently announced it was partnering with ZigBee to offer home automation control via phone. A home automation hub makes sense for data test bed, but a phone app seems like the interface most likely to succeed.
  • Services appliance

    A nice multipurpose services appliance would be great. Just pitch like a home router. It could provide private cloud storage services, home networking, home automation, etc. Make it require virtually no attention from users.
    P. Douglas
  • A Home SCADA system

    Sounds like this is a home SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system which would be great if could get everything to work with it and would be easy to configure. I will probably not be around to see it come to fruition, but it is definitely the future.