In the Web of Things vision, these “smart” objects become part of web, comunicate and interact with the persons and between them using the protocols that make up today’s web (in the first place, HTTP): in a few words, the same protocols that we all use whenever we visit a web page or we interact with our favorite social network, or we make an online purchase.
In the past year, the research group of LBS (LBS http://geoweb.crs4.it/) of CRS4, have focused in this particular field and the researchers Antonio Pintus, Davide Carboni and Andrea Piras have initiated the project Paraimpu: a social tool for the Web of Things. It is a scalable Web platform that allows anyone to easily connect their smart objects to the Web, manage them, inter-connect with each other putting them in communication with an exchange of data in real-time and share them with friends and contacts, as how you share the photos or videos on the various existing social networks. Paraimpu’s vision is that of an “extended” Web of Things, in which not only physical real objects, become part of it and communicate with each other but also the inclusion of “virtual” objects, ie applications, services, software, social networking, programming interfaces, and other objects on the Web. In this way, it’s possible to realize real “mash-up” connecting between them both physical and virtual objects thanks to a powerful mechanism for transforming data (this mechanism is absolutely necessary given the high degree of heterogeneity of the objects, by nature and function). Paraimpu is available here: http://paraimpu.crs4.it and (pending the openness to all) you can request an alpha account simply by filling in a form. We would want to remember the social aspect of the platform: the idea of a social Web of Things provides not only the integration with the existent social network, such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare (which become, as we have seen, objects of the system), but Paraimpu materializes the concept of a real sharing of objects, things, between users on the Web.
An example: if a user buys a temperature sensor rather than a CO2 detector, he connects it to an openPICUS board, for example, and he installs it in its own terrace, why do not share the information with his friends or other people? The sharing of this information would prevent the latter from having to buy the same objects to capture data in the same city or in the same area, thereby producing the triple effect of a more collaborative consumption, of a reduction of waste and duplication of data on the system.
Once logged in Paraimpu, the user finds himself inside his workspace (FIG. 1), through which he can add and connect objects. This is possible thanks to the paddle that contains both the wizard for adding well-known objects in the system, such as Facebook, Twitter, Arduino, Chumby, OpenPiCUS, etc. … and those to create generic objects. In the first case, the custom-made wizards allow the user to add objects and ensure that communicate with the system with the necessary configuration minimized or even without this need. In the second case the user has complete freedom of configuration.
Using the workspace, the user is able to connect together the various objects, possibly by setting rules on Adapting/filtering and sharing in a social as we mentioned earlier.
Among the well-known objects, Paraimpu team developed and now offers full support for Flyport Wi-Fi module.
In practice, the system allows the adding at the own workspace these boards both in a “Sensor” configuration, ie to send the data read by the sensors connected to the pins of the board to Paraimpu, both in a “Actuator” configuration, ie to read data from Paraimpu and perform an action, for example by activating something connected to the board.
Paraimpu helps the user writing automatically the C code for the particular configuration and making it available for download, directly from your workspace. In this way, through the OpenPICUS IDE is possible to compile and upload the code created by Paraimpu, directly on the board and see it working and connected it to the system in a few steps. In addition, the system assists the user in the test and in the creation of connections involving OpenPICUS, thanks to a graphical widget that allows you to set the values and the status in the various pins (Fig. 2).
A first tutorial on how to use OpenPICUS Flyport is available on Paraimpu official blog
Scenarios and Applications
One of the first tangible application, made by Paraimpu, is the permanent installation called Tlight, created by Quit which involving the T Hotel, a 5-star hotel, Cagliari, Sardinia. This artistic installation allows anyone to modify both the shades of color, and the behavior of the lights on the top of the glass tower
simply sending a message to the social network Twitter. To interact with the tower of T Hotel you can send a message on Twitter with hashtag #thotel and make a sentence (only one) with one of the following words: red, blue, green, orange, yellow, white, cyan, wave, different, couple, full, pulse and random.
For example: #thotel green is the color.
The Tlight installation is just a recreational artistic example, that everyone can use, wherever they are in the world, of the potentiality offered by the system. Paraimpu in fact enables the creation of numerous applications ranging from artistic installations to home automation, to tele-medicine, environmental monitoring; the real limit is the imagination and the real needs of users.
In addition, we began to experiment the monitoring of systems for solar thermal energy production, as well as Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) scenarios, in which the patients with a particular disease are assisted by the environment they live in major daily activities, such as hiring drugs; this thanks to the objects, to the things that surround them. On this last scenario, we also made a video, take a look: