Mozilla has kicked off 'Project Things' - a framework of software and services that can bridge the communication gap between connected devices, ensuring that people can now build their own 'Things Gateway' to control their connected device directly from the web. The not-for-profit is doing this so we don't end up with an internet of things controlled only by big tech companies. Their Web of Things Gateway will allow you to replace your Amazon Echo, Philips Hue hub, Apple TV and Google Home with an open device. They're also developing an interface to control your connected devices. Here's a link to the Mozilla blog post so you can find out more.
IBM is developing a 1mm x 1mm computer "with a few hundred thousand transistors, a bit of RAM, a solar cell and a communications module, it has about the power of a chip from 1990." IBM intends to make them extra-cheap, perhaps 10 cents apiece. They're not availble yet, though. The project is being promoted as part of the company’s 'five in five' predictions of turns technology will take in the next five years
While you may be hard-pressed to find someone who is as big of a fan of the internet-of-things as I am, it's important to look at the rapid move towards a world of connected things with the ramifications in mind. The author discussed in the article linked above argues that, given the rapid rise of connectivity and data sharing that's going on in the world, "governments must step in now to force companies developing connected gadgets to make security a priority rather than an afterthought." It's estimated that the number of connected devices (excluding phones and computers) in circulation has doubled in the past year from over 5 billion to 11 billion, and there are way more to come. "Hackers have already shown they can compromise everything from connected cars to medical devices, and warnings are getting louder that security is being shortchanged in the stampede to bring products to market." While progress is without a doubt something to be excited about and to celebrate, it's also important we take a hard, realistic look at the changes to come and prepare for the potential negative consequences that may arise. The person in focus in this piece is a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He's also the author of an influential security newsletter and blog, so heeding his advice and warnings is well-advised.
The biggest security update for Wi-Fi in over a decade was recently announced by the Wi-Fi Alliance, a non-profit organization that promotes Wi-Fi technology and certifies Wi-Fi products for conformity to certain standards of interoperability. The update comes in the form of the Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3) security certificate protocol. "The most important moment to any network’s defense is when a new device or user tries to connect. The enemy should remain outside the gate, which is why WPA2, and now WPA3, put a lot of emphasis on authenticating new connections and ensuring they aren’t attempts by attackers to gain access." There's now a new method for authenticating a device trying to connect to a network called Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE). This method dictates exactly how a new device, or user, should “greet” a network router when they exchange cryptographic keys.
At what size does something stop becoming a 'thing'? I ask this because the list of internet-connected devices will soon extend to things as small as a few square millimeters in volume. This 'smart dust (the technical name being microelectromechanical systems, MEMS or motes), though tiny, can be equipped with sensors, cameras and networking capabilities. These capabilities can enable these little devices to: Collect data including acceleration, stress, pressure, humidity, sound and more from sensors Process the data with what amounts to an onboard computer system Store the data in memory Wirelessly communicate the data to the cloud, a base or other MEMs This development has been made possible due to developments in 3D printing, as these MEMS can be made in one piece, allowing for an incredible amount of complexity in such a tiny space. While smart dust won't be bringing about technologically-induced sneezes any time soon, we are moving quickly towards a world where the motes of dust you see suspended in the light filtering through a window in an afternoon could actually be watching you.