Is HyperCat An IoT Silo Buster? | ZDNet

Steve Ranger over at ZDNet has an interesting write-up on HyperCat, a UK-funded data sharing open specification for Internet of Things devices.

The new specifications has the backing (or at least interest) of major players and could become an alternative to proprietary standards such as Apple’s HomeKit or Google Nest.

HyperCat is a new specification with some big backers (IBM, BT, ARM) that could become an (open) platform for IoT devices.
HyperCat is a new specification with some big backers (IBM, BT, ARM) that could become an (open) platform for IoT devices.

HyperCat is described as an “open, lightweight, JSON-based hypermedia catalogue” that is designed to “expose information about IoT assets over the web.” The goal is to provide a set of open APIs and data formats that startups and other smaller firms can use to built ecosystems of connected objects.

Smart devices are typically developed using common technologies and platforms: RESTful APIs, JSON (Javascript Object Notation) for data formatting and HTTP (or secure HTTP) as the main communications protocol.

However, the Internet of Things is badly “silo’d” – meaning that interoperability between IoT devices happens only when those smart devices happen to use the same (proprietary) data standards and APIs. Often that means the devices, themselves, come from the same manufacturer or from a business partner of it. So Google’s NEST Thermostat and Protect smoke alarm can share data back and forth. However, the home surveillance system – made by a different vendor – could not relay information (say on flames in the attic) to the Nest devices.

That kind of vertical integration stymies what the Internet of Things really needs to flourish, which is horizontal integration. However, in the short term, the silo problem has become more acute as companies rush into the fast-growing connected home market. Apple, for example, just announced a new framework, dubbed HomeKit, that would connect smart home devices with its iPhone and iPad mobile devices. But HomeKit isn’t an open standard – its a closed one. And device makers who want to write to HomeKit must first enroll in and have their devices accepted into Apple’s MFI (Made for iOS) program.

HyperCat would provide an alternative to that kind of vendor lock-in: offering an open IoT specification through which connected devices could discover other HyperCat compliant devices in an environment and exchange data with them using standard formats.

The standard has the backing of prominent IoT players, as well. ARM, BT and IBM worked with UK Universities and startups to help develop the specification and to implement proof of concept deployments of HyperCat enabled systems. In one, dubbed “Smart Streets,” a HyperCat based hub aggregated data from adjacent highway maintenance products.

Read more over here: The Internet of Things is at risk: Can HyperCat come to the rescue? | ZDNet.

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