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IPSO Alliance Successfully Demonstrates Internet of Things Interoperability

During IETF 84 in Vancouver, Canada, the Internet Protocol for Smart Objects (IPSO) Alliance conducted an interoperability event that primarily focussed on the IPSO Application Framework, but also included testing of 6lowpan, Routing Protocol for Lossy Networks (RPL), and Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP)—all IETF developing standards. This was not the first Interop held in conjunction with the IETF; the Alliance organized a successful test of RPL at IETF 77 in Anaheim, California.

Colocating the Interop with the IETF made it possible to provide direct feedback to engineers working on the various Internet Drafts. In addition, we were able to leverage the vast experience, knowledge, and support of the IETF network operations center (NOC) team for network configuration and management.

IPSO has held six interoperability events since its conception in 2008. The purpose of these events is to provide developers an opportunity to come together in a vendor-neutral setting and learn from one another about implementation issues for the various protocols. Afterward the Alliance and the vendors provide feedback to the IETF about inconsistencies in the Internet Drafts or RFCs. A number of issues related to early versions of RPL were communicated back to the Routing over Low Power and Lossy Networks (ROLL) working group in order to improve the developing drafts.

At this latest event, the participants demonstrated Internet of Things interoperability using the current  IPv6 and Web standards developed for machine-to-machine (M2M) devices and cloud services that will be used in connected home, building automation, lighting, and smart-energy related applications. The event showcased Web-enabled smart objects from multiple vendors, each exchanging application payloads in an interoperable manner based on the IPSO application framework.

The IPSO Application Framework, which is available at the IPSO Alliance website (www.ipso-alliance.org), defines a representational state transfer (REST)ful design for use in IP smart objects for M2M applications. It identifies a set of REST interfaces that may be used by a smart object to represent its available resources and to interact with other smart objects and backend services. It has been extended to cover a wide range of use cases and to more precisely describe the parameters of the smart objects involved in this Interop during IETF 84. This template enabled participants to interact seamlessly between devices located at the Interop in Canada and remotely in Finland, France, Sweden, and the United States via a cloud-hosted application.

During the three-day event, eight IPSO member companies participated in the Interop, including ElectroTest Sweden AB, Ericsson, Nivis, Nokia, Proto6, Sensinode, Sensus, and Watteco. Some of the devices tested included electric meters, edge routers, and numerous types of home and building sensors and controllers, and a proximity sensor that monitored access and movement in a participant's hotel room.

There is a lot of preplanning work that goes into bringing together a successful testing event. The Alliance’s Interop and Smart Energy committees worked tirelessly to define the goals and subsequent protocol parameters to provide the best opportunity for successful interoperability. In the end, every one of the devices was able to exchange sensor data with the cloud server and some of the devices were able to be controlled from the server. Future Interops are planned that will extend the functionality for direct device-to-device control and look at demonstrating industry-focused applications for areas such as home automation, appliance control, healthcare, building control, and automotive.

At the end of the member Interop event, the IETF community was invited to see some of the devices and products being developed, including IPv6-enabled light bulbs and an IPv6-connected heart rate monitor, as well as electric meters, routing devices, sensors, and cloud applications.

The IPSO Alliance plans two additional interoperability test events during 2012: the first will be in conjunction with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) event in October and will focus on the CoAP protocol; the second will be in Atlanta at IETF 85, where we will be looking to test IP over 802.15.4g and additional extensions to the IPSO Application Framework.