Google Explores IoT at Carnegie Mellon

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in the US is set to become a living lab for Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. Tech giant Google is behind this initiative, investing half a million dollars to create the ideal conditions to develop and explore applications at the university’s Pittsburgh campus.


CMU was chosen from among several candidates who applied to Google’s Open Web of Things expedition, which aims to turn the IoT’s potential “into reality” , i.e., that sensor-equipped buildings and everyday objects can interact in order to create intelligent environments. The tech giant’s goal is to create a full inter-operational system of IoT technology and find solutions for key issues, such as privacy and security. 


The project intends to create a new platform for IoT applications, known as GIoTTO, which will be developed by researchers from CMU and Google, as well as Cornell, Stanford and the University of Illinois. The first steps will be to put in place sensors that are cheap and easy to install, as well as other necessary infrastructures; to create a new middleware which facilitates the development of applications and manages privacy and security; and lastly, develop new tools which enable end users to carry out their own experiments with the IoT.


“The goal of our project will be nothing less than to radically enhance human-to-human and human-to­-computer interaction through a large-scale deployment of the Internet of Things (IoT) that ensures privacy, accommodates new features over time and enables people to readily design applications for their own use,” said Anind K. Dey, lead investigator of the expedition and director of CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute.


 Aside from the main team, CMU will have a second group of investigators working on the expedition whose primary goal will be to develop a new privacy-protection technology for users. “We will demonstrate the use of personalized privacy assistants that help users configure the many privacy settings necessary to ensure that they retain adequate control over their data,” clarified Norman Sadeh, a professor at CMU and the team’s coordinator.


According to CMU, there’s also the chance to expand this initiative beyond the campus borders and into the Pittsburgh community, an idea which pleases local administration. “The City of Pittsburgh has emerged as a leader in embracing innovation to enhance city services and improve the quality of life of our citizens,” said Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto, adding that “Collaborations with its university community have been an important element of the city’s innovation strategy”.


To Google, this is also a way of encouraging universities to explore formats and systems in IoT development. “From the many excellent proposals received, we’ve chosen Carnegie Mellon to lead because of their vision for a living laboratory, validating system design through daily use. Cornell, Illinois and Stanford were selected to join [the expedition] based on their unique approaches for tackling critical challenges related to privacy & security, systems & protocols and HCI.” explained Maggie Johnson, director of university relations for Google.  “We believe the collaboration with and across universities will accelerate innovation and IoT adoption,” she added.




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