Using Agile-IoT technologies in an IoT solution for energy saving in vacation rental properties

The domain of vacation rentals has drastically evolved over the last few years, thanks to popular online platforms like AirBnB and HomeAway. Unlike hotels, which are usually equipped with complex automation technologies, vacation rental properties are still running behind and have not yet adopted connected home technologies. The reason is usually the lack of dedicated IoT solutions which do not require complex house renovations and high initial investments. The lack of connected home technologies turns out to be a missed opportunity for the owner or manager to save energy, money, and time and to simplify the management of the property.

Modosmart (www.modosmart.com) wants to solve this problem and has developed ELIO, an IoT solution which reduces the energy expenses in vacation rental properties thanks to the automation of air-conditioning and heating based on presence detection technology. The system includes two devices developed by Modosmart, namely a window sensor and a room sensor unit which includes presence detection and temperature and humidity sensing. The devices are in pre-commercial state, tested and validated with a set of early adopters. They use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) for communication. In addition, the solution is equipped with an off-the-shelf air-conditioning controller able to control any type of infrared based A/C split machine.

Modosmart was selected as one of the eight startups awarded in the first open call launched by the Agile-IoT project and which had proposed project ideas to integrate the Agile-IoT gateway into existing IoT solutions. Our project aimed to integrate the Agile-IoT gateway hardware and software stack into the Elio solution.

The project started on the 1st of January and ended on the 30th of June. During the first half of the project there has been a thorough analysis of the gateway stack with the aim to allow the gateway to speak with the custom devices developed by Modosmart. The outcome of this phase was a proof of concept demo showing the gateway communicating with an ESP32 board, equipped with BLE communication and using the same Nordic nrf51822 microcontroller used in our custom BLE devices.

During the second three months of the project, the proof of concept board has been replaced by the real devices of the Elio solution. At the end of this phase the gateway was able to collect presence, temperature and humidity data from the room sensor unit, to monitor weather a window is open or close and to control the air-conditioning by speaking to the off-the-shelf controller.

Thanks to the collaboration with the Agile-IoT project and to the received funding, the Elio solution is now able to rely on a modular, robust and flexible gateway which can accelerate the time-to-market. The modularity, robustness and flexibility is a result of the fact that the Agile-IoT gateway is built on top of a Docker containerized system powered by ResinOS, which is an operating system bringing the containerization approach to embedded systems. The benefits of using  a modular containerized framework is demonstrated by the fact that by developing our own container we have been able to connect the Agile-IoT gateway to our devices without any modification to the other parts of the system.

Developing on top of a Docker based system has been the first experience at Modosmart, and thanks to the possibility offered by the Agile-IoT project and to the support received by the project’s technical team, we have been able to achieve our objective in a relatively short time and without facing major obstacles.

 

Image from PxHere

Agile for the retail analytics industry: Thinkinside experience

Thinkinside is a company specialised in retail analytics. It’s flagship product RetailerIN (www.retailerin.com) allows to analyse customers behaviour in retail stores and to suggest possible interventions on how to optimise store operations and organisation. The product exploits IoT devices in store in order to collect anonymous information on customer’s behaviour. Examples of such IoT devices are Bluetooth Low Energy TAGs placed on products, or people counters at the entrance. Such devices are typically connected through an in-store gateway to the cloud where data is processed and analysed at scale.

Being a software company, one of the key challenges we face on a regular basis is on how to design and develop custom hardware components in order to either explore new services or accommodate specific customer needs. This typically involves specific hardware and IoT devices to be integrated. With the IoT ecosystem comprising many hundreds of new players offering one or two parts of the IoT puzzle, finding the right hardware + software solution is often a time-consuming task, especially for small companies like Thinkinside.

The Agile project allowed us to tackle one of the key pain points of ICT companies working in the IoT+retail sector, and in particular

  • Interoperability and integration of IoT hardware platform and components: by relying on the Agile gateway and the readily available hardware and software components, integration and interoperability can be simplified a lot, especially during the initial design and fast prototyping phase of the solution.
  • Fast implementation and prototyping: the Agile hardware and software modules allowed us to develop solutions and prototypes in a very small time. This is considered as key when developing Proof of concepts for customers or when developing new solutions.
  • Support for many different standard hardware solutions covering different options in terms of connectivity, sensing boards, costs, form factors, etc.: the Agile software can run on many different hardware platforms. This allows us to easily scale the solution to the most appropriate hardware platform required to address customer needs.
  • Allowing companies to focus on value added services (rather than hw design and maintenance): our focus is software and the creation of innovative retail services and solutions. By mitigating the risk involved in the design and implementation of hardware component, we can focus on our key expertise (software) and create, in a faster way, new services to ne introduced in the market.

Iacopo Carreras, CEO Thinkinside

 

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

Ex Machina: Middleware for a modbus energy monitoring solution

In early May, Ex Machina, one of the 8 winners of the first open call, presented its progress with the AGILE platform to professional IoT developers and advanced IoT geeks in Athens.

Manolis Nikiforakis, Ex Machina CEO, described an environment for building powerful industrial IoT solution, using a typical energy monitoring use-case as an example.

The Ex Machina solution is built on open source technologies like Eclipse Kura, Eclipse Kapua, Eclipse hawkBit, Thingsboard.io, Agile-IoT, Resin.io, Node-RED, openHAB, Raspberry Pi, ESP8266/32, Modbus, and MQTT.

Our Testbed is here for YOU !

Do you want to try AGILE but you don’t have access to a RaspberryPi and a SensorTag? Use our Testbed hosted by our partner, INRIA.

Here is a short demo explaining how to connect:

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Link to wiki page: https://github.com/Agile-IoT/AGILE-Testbed/

FORSEC Published Book – AGILE Collaboration

AGILE has collaborated with a Bavarian project called FORSEC. FORSEC has recently published a book collecting their results, in which they mention their collaboration with AGILE. In particular, they mention how UPFROnt, a policy framework developed within FORSEC, that is also used by AGILE, uses the AGILE Identity Management Framework.

Moreover, as UPFROnt is included as part of SEDARI, a framework to store and apply policies to data in the Cloud, the collaboration with AGILE turns SEDARI into an Oauth2 server and OAuth2 provider. They also mentioned that these capabilities are considered essential for IoT applications.

Thank you FORSEC for acknowledging our collaboration. We are pleased that both projects could help each other to achieve their goals!

Midterm project status

A set of new presentations are published. They describe the progress and the achievements of the AGILE-IoT project during the last 18 months.

Enjoy !

Using the AGILE framework to implement a Quantified Self application: Advantages and Challenges

New biosensors are released daily promising to help us monitor important biosignal parameters.  Until recently, lower priority has been given to interoperability while emphasis has been put on data collection, many times on remote servers without the level of guarantees that the user’s data will not be misused.  The AGILE software stack with the component-based architecture and open source licensing and development model allows for the implementation of a fully-fledged gateway under the user’s control.

The proliferation of a multitude of biosignal sensors and activity trackers to gather user biosignal and wellness attributes poses unique challenges for their effective integration into user-centric applications which will provide valuable insights and promote healthy behaviors. Such sensors include medical sensors for biosignals such as heart-rate, oxygen saturation and weight, b) trackers measuring activity and steps, and c) smartwatches that also incorporate the biosignal or activity measurement functionality.

The architecture of the AGILE Software stack allows for the integration of new sensors increasing the usefulness of the Agile Gateway in many applications. In order to ease access to sensors data the Agile –IoT project has defined a set of REST commands which homogenize access to sensors. Unfortunately, due to the great variance of features and access protocols between devices, great effort is needed to integrate them via the implementation of corresponding device drivers but the architecture of the AGILE software stack aims to ease these difficulties.  AGILE offers two methods of device integration:

  • Protocol-based implementation: Implementation of functionality which converts device communication to Agile compliant protocol primitives.
  • Device based implementation: Implementation of device communication using existing AGILE PAN networking protocols. Bluetooth Low Energy and Zigbee are currently supported.

Sensor values from BLE devices can have various formats depending on the underlying parameter that is being measured.  The values sent to the gateways can be sent as:

  • Single Measurements: The information of the measured parameter is fully described in a single transaction. Devices that send data in this way include blood pressure monitors and glucometers.
  • Multiple Measurements: Information is dependent upon a sequence of measured values in a specific timeframe ranging from seconds to hours. Devices which fall in this category include oximeters and ECGs.
  • Continuous Monitoring: In this case, data is sent to the gateway in real-time or stored continuously on the device until connectivity to the gateway is possible. Wearables (activity trackers and smartwatches) as well as sensors that monitor continuously various biosignals belong to this category.

The Quantified Self Application

The Quantified Self application uses the AGILE software stack to access data from the supported sensors.  The application allows the user to monitor his activity against predefined goals. Sensor-based and cloud-sourced data can be used to quantify the progress.

Figure 1. Activity Summary and User Goals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 2. Sensor and Cloud Activity Visualizations

The application also allows the monitoring of the following biosignals via supported devices

  • Blood Pressure
  • Heart Rate
  • Oxygen Saturation
  • Body Weight

Figure 3. Biosignal Visualizations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*The Quantified-Self application has been developed by BioAssist S.A. in the frame of the respective AGILE Pilot.

Trusted Data Sharing with Linked Data in the Internet of Things (IoT)

This post intends to give the reader a perspective on how Jolocom brings trusted data sharing to the AGILE IoT Gateway (AGILE is a H2020 project). It should provide essential value to the user, not only but also in context of the internet of things, and not least to benefits from the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The original idea of the World Wide Web

To start with, the vision of Jolocom aligns with the original idea of the World Wide Web, which was distributed: everyone would have their own node (e.g. home page), everyone would share their content (e.g. blog posts), and everyone would own their own data. The web consisted of nodes connected through links with no center. Jolocom wants to help reclaiming this vision that everyone owns their own node (digital identity) and that every node can communicate with any other node, with no intermediation (e.g. centralized platform).

The dominating power of a few

Today a handful of companies dominate vast parts of the web’s activities – Facebook for social networking, Google for searching, Paypal for payments or eBay for auctions, Samsung/IBM for IoT – and they actually own the data their users have provided and generated. Ergo these companies have unprecedented insight and power over us. They can influence and nudge us without our knowledge, which gives them not only a huge competitive advantage, but also interferes with fundamental values of society and the right for privacy.

Social Linked Data (Solid) and Blockchain (Ethereum)

Jolocom uses a decentralized software architecture that is very promising. It was initiated by Tim Berners-Lee who invented the web and gave it to us as a gift, free and open source. His new project is called Solid (“social linked data”) and it allows you to own your own data, while also using it with only the applications you want to use. With Solid, you simply store your data in your own Personal Data Store (PDS; in Jolocom’s case: a Solid Server), which is hosted wherever you wish. At the core of Solid is the WebID, which Jolocom integrates with the Ethereum blockchain, to build a self-sovereign digital identity that allows you to represent yourself and to enrich your data with semantic meaning. Besides that and storing data, it also lets other applications ask for your data. Solid authenticates the DApps (Decentralized Applications) through Access Control Lists (ACLs) and if you’ve given access permission to the requester of the data, the Solid server delivers it.

Here’s a concrete example.You might store data from your IoT devices or sensors in your own PDS: the sort of data about yourself that would normally be uploaded directly from your IoT device to a third party. That way if someone built a new DApp, to offer specialized services to people, you could join it by using your WebID. To share information with others (individuals or organisations), you simply give them permission to access the appropriate information in your PDS. The data in your PDS would remain your own, in every sense of the word: fully under your control, stored where you choose, and usable only by an Organization’s WebID that you’ve given permission to.

The fantastic thing about Solid is that it does all this without having to centralize information in hands that we can’t- and too often also should not – fully trust.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Users are becoming increasingly aware of the need and importance for strong data rights. Governments are slowly adapting to this, with the upcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation as the first move towards a market in which businesses will have to adapt with new business models and technical infrastructure. With the decentralized web as an answer to these needs, users will be able to use services they want to interact with, data will be stored in their own private location, and they will be able to switch between them. This will allow and encourage for a market with a significantly lowered barrier to innovate, one in which collaboration between players is much favourable over competition. Without the main competitive advantage of data, network effects and vendor lock-in will become virtually obsolete. We help businesses create and participate in collaborative decentralized ecosystems where the value generated by its services benefits the ecosystem as a whole.

GDPR compliance is now mandated by May 2018. This means businesses are now required to show exactly how the data they collect is used and enables them to freely take this data with them to different services.

Conclusion

Social Linked Data with its decentralized architecture has the properties to profoundly enrich trust, data portability, and privacy. At the same time it will step up usability to a whole new level for both the user and service providers, while simultaneously becoming compliant to GDPR.

Author: Joachim Lohkamp, Jolocom

Demo Day at TU Graz, Austria

The AGILE consortium had its quarterly plenary meeting at the end of March in Graz, Austria. FBK / Create-Net, AGILE project leader, took advantage of this opportunity to ask each of the partners to create a demonstration focusing on one aspect of the project for which they were responsible or involved. This resulted in an excellent demo session where we were able to take the pulse of the project.

This post lists and describes most of these demonstrations in order to share with you this excellent feedback.Continue reading