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W3C Web of Things Working Group Begins Work

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The recently chartered Web of Things Working Group at the W3C has begun its standardization work. The Working Group (WG) was born out of exploration previously done by the Web of Things Interest Group (IG). The WG will take the exploration previously done and work collaboratively towards new standards for defining interoperability across Internet of Things devices and machines and services that connect with them.

Citing the growing fragmentation among IoT devices and APIs, Dr. Jeff Jaffe, CEO of the W3C noted:

There are huge, transformative opportunities not only for mobile operators but for all businesses if we can overcome the fragmentation of the IoT. As stewards of the Open Web Platform, W3C is in a unique position to create the royalty-free and platform-independent standards needed to achieve this goal.

In a blog post from March 8, 2016, Dr. Jaffe notes that "there are standards at the physical layer but insufficient interoperability at the higher layers." The introduction to the new Working Group's charter also clarifies the intent of these newly in progress standards:

These building blocks will complement existing and emerging standards by focusing on enabling cross-platform and cross-domain interoperability, as opposed to creating yet another IoT standard.

These building blocks include four items defined as the WG’s scope—the areas for which standards will be defined:

Thing Description

Semantic vocabularies for describing the data and interaction models exposed to applications, the choice of communications patterns provided by protocols, and serialization formats suitable for processing on resource-constrained devices and transmission over constrained networks.

Scripting API

Platform-independent application-facing API for Thing-to-Thing interaction and Thing lifecycle management.

Binding Templates

Example mappings from the abstract messages to specific common platforms and protocols in collaboration with the corresponding organizations.

Security and Privacy

Cross-cutting policies and mechanisms integrated into the other building blocks to describe and implement security and privacy policies to enable secure and safe interaction across different IoT platforms.

The group is chaired by Matthias Kovatsch (Siemens), Kazuo Kajimoto (Panasonic), and Michael McCool (Intel) and will be working primarily through a public mailing list and GitHub hosted repositories.

The WG intends to create three normative requirement documents: WoT Architecture, WoT Thing Description, and WoT Scripting APIs. Additionally, a WoT Binding Templates informative specification is planned. The W3C process includes the requirement for implementations to pass test cases and collaboration, and experimentation with those is encouraged.

Companies and individuals interested in the Web of Things (WoT) and Internet of Things (IoT) are encouraged to participate in the public mailing list and repositories. W3C members (organizations and individuals) may participate in the weekly calls and face-to-face meetings and the Working Group’s decision making process to determine the future standards for the Web of Things.

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