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I already posted a Web Object Oriented Programming. We now explain how moving a step forward allows to merge two current trends into one: combining Internet of Things and Internet of Services to achieve Internet of Objects.

My last blog was explaining that if we follow past programming trends throughout history, and now that the standardisation war around services has been won by web services, the programmers community will want to achieve standardisation at an object-oriented level rather than at a service-oriented level, thus allowing to better leverage model driven approaches.

To do so, we propose an approach the less intrusive as possible, i.e. we use existing popular technologies: REST and WSDL. Actually, we still need a slight modification of WSDL to achieve object orientation, which takes us to what we call WODL (to be presented in a later entry). Thanks to WODL, one can expose any object attributes and operations using a slightly modified version of a standard he knows well: WSDL. In addition, he can directly point to this object using the most widespread way of pointing to resources: URLs. 

Now let’s see how we merge Internet of Services and Internet of Things:

1. Internet of Services is -almost by definition- all about Services. Basic assumption is that everything is accessible through services, and therefore we need a complete framework, both technology- and business-wise, to address the technical needs on one hand, and the ecosystem needs on the other hand. Yet, it’s limited by its scope: it only looks at services. Objects are at best hidden behind the services, and at worst are not there at all. Anyone willing to go for a new application on top of the Internet of Services has not other way than to go for service oriented development, hence losing any potential benefit of object oriented programming.

2. Internet of Things is about connecting the real world to the virtual world, e.g. the IT world. Yet it has two main objectives: first, enabling bi-directional communication (with a focus on leveraging the massive amount of data generated by real world “things”, be it e.g. sensors, RFID tags, machine); second, enabling things to be connected to … the internet of Services. Which basically means that again, things are hidden behind services, not exposed as objects.

What we propose is to take any object, be it real (the Things) or virtual (the programmatic Objects) and to enable them using WODL. As a consequence, when dealing with basic attributes retrieval (or edition), one can benefit from REST, directly accessing (respectivly editing!) the values through an HTTP GET (resp. other HTTP verbs) with the relevant URI. And when dealing with operations, one can benefit from WSDL, calling the operations exposed. But this time, we are talking about object-related operations, not services in which one would have to specify the ID of the object as an input parameter.

As a concrete example, we can use the one of a robot controlling a border (yes, it’s a public security use case 🙂 ). In our Internet of Objects world, here is how the interaction with the robot works:

1. The robot has a unique URI, let’s say: http://www.ulmer.fr/robot69

2. I create a GIS mashup where I want to see the position of my robot on a map: assuming one of the attributes exposed by the robot is its geolocation, I only need to do an http get at the relevant URI (e.g. http://www.ulmer.fr/robot69/geolocation) and I get the position.

3. From this GIS mashup, I want to achieve the move of my robot to control a zone. Assuming my robot exposes the operation “controlzone” with input params geopositionx and geopositiony, I do a soap request to the controlzone webservice operation, using as a root of the URI for the operation the following: http://www.ulmer.fr/robot69/controlzone

Thanks to this concept of Internet of Objects, for simple retrieval or edit of basic attributes, I don’t need any clientside framework: pure HTTP use is sufficient, and I can at least read my attributes from a browser. For more complex manipulation, I go for object related operations the same way I was going with web services, yet I still have an object leve view, which means when I do the modeling of my application, I can reason with objects which can be used down to my implementation.

This is it for an introduction to the concept of Internet of Objects, the way we – SAP Research France – see it. Again, we only scratch the surface, but I hope this gives you an idea of the power of the concept. We’re eagerly waiting for your impressions.

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  1. Marek Kowalkiewicz
    Great post! I fully support your ideas. In fact, during a recent workshop we had in Madrid during WWW 2009 (MEM 2009), we discussed that topic quite vigorously. There is a very active group of researchers, working on the so called “Web of Things”, and a nice overview of that can be found in the blogpost written during the presentation:(http://www.webofthings.com/2009/04/20/web-mashups-mem/).

    During the presentation, we were shown how to access physical devices such as voltage meters via simple http requests (following the REST principles).

    I believe that we do not need anything more than the Web, and simple communication principles we’ve been using for almost 20 years now, to connect to anything, including physical devices. Hopefully we see some breakthrough results in this area pretty soon!

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    1. Cedric Ulmer Post author
      Thanks for the comment 🙂

      You are right in stating that physical devices are now mature enough to be connected to the web in a simple way. I guess it’s just a question of someone finding a trendy way of convincing end-users to adopt it.
      This WebOfThings type of work is embedded in our concept of WebOO or Internet of Objects, yet we try to go a bit further ahead, i.e. really trying to have as final objective to enable object orientation. Although we may never be able to reach this goal, this allows to better shape the intermediary steps required and make all the pieces fit together. As such, I see this WebOfThings effort as a very nicely fitting effort paving the way to object orientation.

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      1. Amit Deshpande
        The web of things or internet of things is a beautiful concept. The blog explains the concepts related to enablement of internet of things to certain extent in simple manner. But I believe its long way for the web of things to materialise as the objects needs to be uniquely identified over the net. Also the security concerns related to the web of things is an important area which needs to be addressed. Unless definite answers are found related to web security the adoption would be relatively slow. Also the infrastructure required, so that devices are sensed over the network is not yet ready.May the concept can begin in closed networks and move to the www of things. Blog is good.
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  2. Karl Christian Roediger
    Great blog and keep it up – as in my view this is the future we can help shaping!
    I find the division of the terms IoT and IoS problematic – connecting things and devices serve a purpose so therefore Internet of Objects is much better although this does not allude properly to purpose and utility – so a better name needs to be found. Business Web, Internet 2.0 and Web of Things etc all play together.

    It is also not such a vision anymore, this paradigm is taking shape across industries around us – consider:
    a) IPV6 is there
    b) the US DOD UID Program is based on these principles – see US DOD UID Future Vision – see this link http://www.iuidtoolkit.com/ops_field_maint/ops_field_maint1.php
    c) Consider the GS1/ EPCglobal EPCIS standard that may transform the way business exchange information based on object event related messages (capture and queries) -see http://www.gs1.org/gsmp/kc/epcglobal/epcis/epcis_1_0-presentation-20070619.pdf
    d) Consider the forthcoming GS1 Discovery service – see http://www.gs1.org/gsmp/kc/epcglobal/discovery
    e) Consider GS1 mobile.com bringing aspects of this together (i.e. IoT and IoS) – see http://www.gs1.org/mobile
    f) consider industry projects such as RFID-Based Automotive Network (see http://www.autonomik.de/en/218.php) and the EDQM Track & Trace project – see http://www.edqm.eu/medias/fichiers/The_EDQM_begins_development_of_a_demonstrator_of_i.pdf and http://www.gs1.org/docs/healthcare/news_events/220610/22_EDQM_Lery.pdf
    g) consider projects such as SEMPROM – the digital product memory  – see http://www.semprom.de/semprom_engl/ and the EU Bridge project  http://www.bridge-project.eu/data/File/BRIDGE_press_release_PortableDemo_040308.pdf as examples
    h) consider in conjunction also the SAP Business Web Initiative 

    I have been working on this topic since 2004 and there is still a transforming capability out there – the question is whether use case or whether technology will drive the transformation – to me it seems that business needs to understand better what can be done with this new technology first in order to shape their business transformation. The entity who has done this analysis is the US DOD and their are publicly available slides on it.

    Last comment: imagine all objects receive their own URI…perfectly in conformance with the URI definition- you could transform the internet…

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