Lessons from Implementing a Browsing Architecture for the Web of Things
Internet of Things devices increasingly abandon on-board buttons and graphical interfaces in exchange for software interfaces on mobile platforms. While such interfaces can be downloaded to smartphones as mobile apps, the process usually consists of burdensome discovery, installation, scanning, pairing, and configuration, all before a user can ever interact with a nearby smart device. This model-of mandatory app installs for each new device class-scales poorly with the growing population of "things", and significantly hinders casual interactions with ambient devices. To break away from this restrictive paradigm, we design, implement and deploy a new architecture that provides a seamless, scalable approach to discovering and interacting with nearby "things" using mobile devices. The system takes advantage of multiple network patterns and modern web technologies to supply users with rich device interfaces that can interact directly devices over local networking protocols. This paper discusses experiences during the two-year deployment of the system, which has been tested and used by more than a dozen embedded wireless devices as a standard user interface platform. In our analysis, we find that our method scales better than the current app model and that it enables more intuitive and natural functionality for both users and developers.