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In 2016, an estimated 6.4 billion devices were connected to the internet. This number is projected to skyrocket up to 20.8 billion by 2020. Predictably, many of these devices are computers and mobile phones, but a plethora of other web-connected ‘smart’ devices such as automobiles, health monitors, and buildings have also appeared on the market in recent years. The “Web of Things” (also referred to as the Internet of Things or IoT) is a term used to describe the interconnection and exchange of data between all of these devices.
Pattabiraman and Mesbah, both associate professors in UBC’s department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, recently received a grant from Intel titled “Automatic Secure Code Migration in the Heterogeneous World of the Web of Things”. The grant is awarded on a competitive basis for $60,000 USD a year for three years, and will allow them to pursue significant research designed to help us understand how best to use and develop the Web of Things. Both researchers have worked with Intel in the past, and this grant will build on their previous collaborations.
There is no doubt that further research in this field is warranted, as the Web of Things’ formidable potential is currently tempered by a few substantial performance and security challenges. First, the Internet is by nature an open network. This means that serious security is needed for private devices, as consumers certainly don’t want their car controls or their home alarm code to be available to everyone using the web. Performance challenges stem mainly from the limited power and memory size of systems used by simpler devices.