Smart home controls

Mozilla’s ‘Things Gateway’ to enable better smart home IoT device communication

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Mozilla’s ‘Things Gateway’ allows users to tie together all their connected devices to communicate with each other, regardless of which tech company developed them.

Although Mozilla has been working on an open standard for Internet of Things (IoT) devices for a while, this is the first ‘Things Gateway’ that can be set up without technical knowledge, allowing ordinary users to focus on setting up their connected homes.

The updated Things Gateway requires just a Raspberry Pi, a microSD card, a dongle and the new Things Gateway software.

“Today’s launch makes it easy for anyone with a Raspberry Pi to build their own Things Gateway,” a statement by Mozilla said. “In addition to web-based commands and controls, a new experimental feature shows off the power and ease of using voice-based commands. We believe this is the most natural way for users to interact with their smart home.”

Once set up, the gateway guides the user through the process of adding devices to their network. The user may lay out their devices in a floor plan of their home and set up If This Then That (IFTTT) rules for the devices. IFTTT rules allow users to create very simple chains of conditional actions; for instance, if the temperature drops below 20°C, then switch on the central heating. It provides a secure URL for the devices to be controlled.

The gateway also includes additional device type support (including smart plugs, mood lighting and multi-level switches and sensors), a new system for safely authorising third-party applications and an add-on system for supporting new protocols and devices.

According to Mozilla, for as long as accessory makers and service providers continue to create products which cannot communicate with each other, building a connected home will remain expensive and the IoT will not take off: the market is “fragmented and slow to grow”, the organisation has warned.

In order to bridge the communications gap between connected devices, Mozilla has been working on ‘Project Things’, which aims to bridge the communications gap between connected devices, such that the largest tech giants will not end up controlling the IoT.

At the centre of ‘Project Things’ is the development of an open ‘Web of Things’ (which enables real objects to be part of the world wide web). Although standards are being developed by Google, Apple, Amazon and Samsung, open standards developed by Mozilla and its collaborators would function as an umbrella layer that binds different systems together and allows them to communicate.

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