The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has been developing many of the key Internet of Things (IoT) standards over the past years. Now when the first wave of standards has been completed and are being adopted by the industry, new requirements for IoT research, based on the actual use of the standards, have emerged. The Internet Research Task Force (IRTF), an organization working in parallel with the IETF and focusing on longer term research issues, has now chartered a new group, Thing-to-Thing Research Group (T2TRG), to address open IoT research issues.
The "things" can be anything from household appliances, to industrial or agriculture equipment, and beyond. An important aspect is that the things can communicate with services in the Internet, but also directly with each other. While having network connectivity and common communication protocols is a key requirement for this, in order for the things to understand each other, we need to go further. For example, in a smart factory, existing sensor and control equipment from one vendor should able to work together with the industrial processes controlled by actuators from another vendor. The things should be able to discover the functionality of each other, understand what is it for, and figure out how to use it correctly. Over time new things might be added to the system and old things moved or removed. And we should be able to do all this in an efficient and secure way with minimal human intervention.
The T2TRG will be focusing on IoT research issues that have standardization opportunities in the IETF; that is, from the Internet Protocol (IP) adaption layer to application layer with architectures and APIs that enable communication, data, management, and security functionality. Some of the initial topics of interest for the group include management and operation of networks with constrained nodes, security and lifecycle aspects, and RESTful system design. The research group will also be working closely together with the W3C Web of Things group to cooperate e.g., on data models, formats, and semantics.
The T2TRG is open for all interested researchers to participate. You can get started by joining the mailing list discussions. The group will be having face to face meetings co-located with IETF meetings but also potentially with related organizations and research conferences.
Ericsson researchers and engineers have been contributing to the development of various IoT standards at the IETF over the years and we are now excited to continue the work at the T2TRG, as a co-chair of the group and as active contributors. We see that the standards and technologies developed at the IETF and IRTF work as key enablers in realizing the Networked Society.