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PhD Defense: A Centralized IoT Middleware System for Devices Working Across Application Domains Using Self-descriptive Capability Profile

Name: Chengjia Huo

Location: EH 4404

Date: September 30, 2015

Time: 1pm

Committee: Pai H. Chou (chair), Phillip Sheu, Rainer Doemer


The Internet of Things (IoT) has been receiving growing attention in recent years as the next wave of computing revolution made possible by all types of networks of things (NoTs), where devices powered with low-cost, miniature low-power systems-on-chip (SoC) with computing and communication capabilities, and are bridged to the Internet with the assistance of gateways. More and more NoT device are designed to provide more than one functionalities to fulfill different requirements from the application domains. We believe that the true power of IoT is that functionalities of devices can work across application domains. In order to reveal the potential of IoT, the description of a device’s capability needs to represent the functionalities that the device can provide. We discover the previous solutions on describing a device’s capability focus mainly on hiding the vendor-specific interfaces made by different manufacturers, but they do not reflect different functionalities that a device provides. In this thesis, the concept of device capability profile is proposed. Different from the previous solutions, the device capability profile specified in the firmware of a device allows the device to work across different application domains. Together with device capability profile, a centralized IoT middleware framework, called rimware, is proposed. Rimware tracks every device’s capability and state in a centralized manner and provides different ways for application domains to query against the device’s functionalities. In addition, rimware utilizes the device capability profile to carry out the enforcement of the security and privacy throughout the communication with the devices. Moreover, tasks can be scheduled through the rimware which enables functionalities from multiple devices to work together to fulfill the requirements from application domains. Optimization is applied on cases that one device working for multiple task simultaneously. An implementation of rimware that is specifically designed for BLE devices, called BlueRim, which takes advantages of BLE’s very long battery life on the device side and the cloud functionality on the centralized side is provided. The fundamental features of rimware have been validated in several real-world applications from different different domains while incurring minimal code size and communication overhead on BLE devices. We believe that our approach represents an important technology in taking IoT closer to realizing the full potentials.