Internet of Things and PubSubHubbub

Internet of Things and PubSubHubbub

The Internet of things is one that makes us dream : everything connected to the internet, talking together and making our lives easier. It’s something that I’ve been thinking to a lot lately.
This all comes from this weird dream that I made, that I would be friended on Facebook by things I own ; my iPhone, my pair of sunglasses… etc. After all, they’re probably interested in me as much as my 400+ friends (Love you guys!).

If my bed subscribed to me on gowalla, it would warm up before I even reach it. If my bathroom mirror was my facebook friend, it could certainly tag me every morning and make a pretty cool time lapse. We have all these awesome social services, but none of them is made for objects. This would yet be quite easy : each object would have a profile, and would have an activity stream, based on what it does and to which I could also subscribe. My iPhone’s stream would be something like this :

  • Mom called
  • Call dropped oups
  • Moved to Coffee Bar
  • Connected to Wifi
  • Battery down to 30% oups
  • Mating with MacBook Pro, refilling
  • Unplugged
  • Playing Spotify
  • Sound up

You get the thing, right?

Not that it’s all interesting, but still, once there is this stream, I can certainly subscribe to it… and learn a bit more about my new object friend, like for example, get a notification on my laptop when its battery dies while in my coat’s pocket, or even find it if it’s been stolen (wait, you can already pay for that). I can also learn a bit about myself : how much music do I listen to, and even send an email automatically to for each dropped call! The iPhone looks easy, but imagine the same thing about my pants :

  • Being washed
  • Being ironed (no idea who would do that)
  • Worn, for 12 hours
  • Worn, for 10 hours
  • Temperature dropping
  • Worn, for 12 more hours
  • Worn 4 times: gross!

Now, my pants would be smart enough to know when I need to actually wash them? Even better, let’s imagine that my heating system can subscribe to my pants, so that when my pants are cold, the heating system goes on? How cool would that be (except for those of us who don’t wear pants.).
What about my car subscribing to my home on foursquare? So that when the car checkins the house, the garage door opens.

We’ve been talking about home automation for decades. No idea why this didn’t really take off, but I’d bet that the fact that all these use proprietary protocols and data structure doesn’t help. Luckily, we now have a full protocol stack for all this : Atom, ActivityStreams, GeoRSS to represent the data, HTTP for the communication, and PubSubHubbub for the subscription mechanism. Time for a shift!

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Previously, on the Superfeedr blog: Google Buzz Firehose.