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CASAGRAS Says the Internet of Things Should Be More Than RFID

An interim report argues that the network linking the virtual and the physical worlds should make use of all automatic identification and data capture technologies, as well as other sensor and communication technologies.
By Rhea Wessel
Nov 20, 2008CASAGRAS (Coordination and Support Action for Global RFID-related Activities and Standardization), an 18-month E.U.-funded project being carried out by an international group of companies and organizations working on RFID and other standards, has received initial positive feedback from the European Union regarding its interim report, according to Ian Smith, one of the project's coordinators, who declines to provide any details regarding the E.U.'s response.

The report says the so-called Internet of Things should not be developed exclusively around radio frequency identification, but should make use of other automatic identification and data capture technologies as well, while also incorporating new sensor and communication technologies and networks. This includes "ubiquitous computing," which the report defines as a system "in which computing devices are considered integrated into everyday objects to allow them to communicate and interact autonomously and provide numerous services to their users." In addition, the report adds, it should work together fully with the Internet.

Ian Smith
The Internet of Things is often seen as a network of physical objects and infrastructure that interact with each other, often autonomously. It is viewed as the connection of the virtual world—the Internet—to the physical world, through electronically identified physical objects. The concept is defined in widely differing ways, however—and that's part of the problem being tackled by CASAGRAS' partners, which include representatives from YRP Ubiquitous Networking Laboratory, in Japan; the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corp. (HKSTP); the Electronics and Telecommunication Research Institute (ETRI), in Korea; FEIG Electronic, in Germany; the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI); and Q.E.D. Systems, in the United States. Their first priority was to consider the role of RFID in the emerging concept of the Internet of Things. However, this became nearly impossible because the partners determined that the concept of the Internet of Things is far from defined on a broad international basis.

According to Smith, who also is the CEO of AIDC UK, and Anthony Furness, the AIDC's technical director, the Internet of Things is a world in which things can communicate with people and to computers, and systems can "talk" to each other. It exploits the Internet, networking, mobile and fixed communications, and associated technologies to provide interconnected services and applications.

One example is a smart household refrigerator that can interact with its contents, recording when something is put away or taken out, while also keeping track of the expiry dates and freshness of everything within it. Another example is a transport network system along a motorway that can gather and relay information regarding road conditions to a car in relation to a driver's specific journey needs. At the same time, it advises maintenance teams about the condition of the road surface and the motorway. Meanwhile, Furness says, the car can read smart cards in the pockets of the driver and passengers, automatically setting temperature and seating position according to their preferences, and even playing predesignated music on the audio system.

In the retail sector, the Internet of Things application could be used to allow goods in a department store to communicate with the store computer, alerting the store when they are moved to the wrong location, or when they are taken without payment. It could be a supermarket shelf "talking" to a customer's mobile phone, alerting that person to allergy risks, country of origin, ingredients or carbon miles.

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