Semantic Interoperability and Hypermedia in IoT

Interoperability still remains one of the key challenges in IoT. In particular how applications, their data, and interactions work well together is still an open issue. The T2TRG workshop on IoT Semantic/Hypermedia Interoperability on July 15-16 is an opportunity to address these challenges.


At Ericsson Research we have been working for a long time to enable multi-vendor and cross-industry interoperability across the IoT protocol stack, spanning from efficient radio technologies to enabling IPv6 and web technologies in constrained IoT devices. In the lower layers of the stack, we have today a good selection of mature and interoperable technologies: radio technologies suitable for a variety of IoT use cases, adaptation of IPv6 with efficient compression suitable for even highly constrained link technologies, and web protocols that can be implemented with proper security functionality in micro-controller devices with very limited resources. However, at the top of the stack, more work remains to be done with data models and application interaction.

Many applications use data models that are specific to the application without considering interoperability across systems. In addition, most organizations and alliances define their own ways of modeling and presenting data. While many data models re-use common syntax and serialization formats (e.g., JSON based models becoming more common), often there is no semantic interoperability across the models, and sometimes not even within the models. Therefore, data from one system cannot be automatically understood by another system. This restricts the ability to build larger systems that take data from a variety of sources and generate information and knowledge to be used by other systems.

One year ago, in the IAB IoTSI workshop (hosted by Ericsson in Santa Clara, US), key organizations and individuals working on related technologies came together to discuss what is the state of the art, how different models can inter-work, and how organizations can collaborate better. Lots of activities have happened since then, but what more needs to be done to enable real semantic interoperability for IoT?

One key technology of the web, hypermedia, is still not used to its fullest extent in IoT. Traditional web applications are already utilizing hyperlinks, forms, and standardized Internet media types to build scalable and evolvable systems. With hypermedia, applications can automatically adapt to changing environments and allow different parts of the system to evolve independently without breaking compatibility with other parts. How can hypermedia technologies be best utilized to bring the benefits also to IoT?

The IRTF Thing-to-Thing Research Group (T2TRG) is organizing a Workshop on IoT Semantic/Hypermedia Interoperability (WISHI) on July 15th and 16th, co-located with the Prague IETF meeting. The workshop will bring together experts from many key organizations working on IoT (e.g., OMA DM, IPSO,, W3C Web of Things, Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), oneM2M, Fairhair Alliance, Haystack), and also from industry and academia. The two days of workshops will include discussions and breakout sessions on the state of the art and direction of work in different organizations, latest research, key challenges, and how we can all collaborate better to achieve interoperability for IoT. As Ericsson is committed to develop interoperable IoT, we are proud to be sponsoring also this event.

If you are interested in solving the remaining challenges with interoperable IoT, please join the discussions in the workshop and in T2TRG!

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