1,000-device personal networks in 2017?

According to ICT Results in 'The Network of Everything,' wireless experts estimate that our personal networks will include about a thousand devices in 2017, including dozens of sensors checking our health and our home. This is why European researchers have launched in 2006 a networking project called 'MAGNET Beyond.' The name is an acronym for 'My personal adaptive Global NET and beyond.' The article suggests that the researchers have in fact built the Smart Personal Network, which integrates the concepts of Personal Networks (PNs) and Personal Area Networks (PANs). Read more to discover the results already achieved...

According to ICT Results in 'The Network of Everything,' wireless experts estimate that our personal networks will include about a thousand devices in 2017, including dozens of sensors checking our health and our home. This is why European researchers have launched in 2006 a networking project called 'MAGNET Beyond.' The name is an acronym for 'My personal adaptive Global NET and beyond.' The article suggests that the researchers have in fact built the Smart Personal Network, which integrates the concepts of Personal Networks (PNs) and Personal Area Networks (PANs). Read more to discover the results already achieved...

The 'MAGNET Beyond' architecture

The EU-funded MAGNET Beyond project was completed in June 2008 by a consortium of 35 companies from 16 countries. The EU provided about €10 million for a budget of over €17 million. The picture above shows the 'MAGNET Beyond' architecture. (Credit: MAGNET Beyond) Here is a link to a larger version of this diagram and another one to a page giving additional details.

But first, where does this number of a thousand devices in a personal network come from? "In reality, it is hard to know what kind of devices or technology might be around for sure, but one thing is certain… there will be a lot of them. Hence the Wireless World Research Forum's (WWRF) prediction of 7 trillion devices for 7 billion people by 2017 -- in other words, around a thousand devices for every man, woman and child on the planet."

How is this possible? "In the future, there will be hundreds, even as many as a thousand devices in a PN. It may seem an impossible figure, but in the near future the number of personal devices will multiply enormously. One person might have dozens of sensors, monitoring vital signs like heart rate and temperature, and even the electrolytes present in perspiration. And then there are sensors and actuators in the home, including light switches, and more again in cars. People will be able to link with TVs, stoves and spectacles, which could double as a personal TV screen, and even clothing. They will have a home gateway, to manage all their home devices, and a car gateway while driving."

Let's admit that our PNs contain a thousand devices? How will be these devices be connected together? "Right now, PNs usually involve fiddling around with Bluetooth settings and crossing your fingers. If it does work, users typically try to complete simple tasks by trial and error, like hunting for photos on your mobile or trying to transfer a tune from your computer to a PDA."

What will be different if we use the MAGNET approach? "In the MAGNET model, users are able to easily set up their Personal Networks with all their devices. 'We have a user-centric approach,' reveals Professor Liljana Gavrilovska, Technical Manager of the MAGNET Beyond project, 'with the overall objective to design, develop, demonstrate and validate the concept of a flexible PN that supports resource-efficient, robust, ubiquitous personal services in a secure, heterogeneous networking environment for mobile users.'"

This sounds more like marketing than anything else. But let's look at how the project was managed. "Four fundamental principles guided the consortium's work: ease of use, trustworthiness, ubiquity and low cost. 'For example, the system is designed to be user friendly, with little or no training required and no need for system administrators,' Gavrilovska explains. 'It will ensure security and protect privacy, and it will work everywhere, even without any additional infrastructure, but still be able to exploit any available resources, like wifi or cellphone networks, for example.' The key elements to achieving these goals were personalisation and a tailored security, privacy and trust framework, including identity and the management of credentials. Credentials establish the trustworthiness of services outside the PN.

Finally, ICT Results writes that "The Network of Everything" is "part one of a three-part feature on MAGNET Beyond." If you use the site own search engine, you'll see that the other parts should appear on the homepage on November 18 (Technology behind the Personal Network) and on November 24 (Up close and personal networks).

Sources: ICT Results, November 15, 2008; and various websites

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