Mozilla announced four Firefox OS based “Connected Devices” projects, including a home automation system, an AI agent, a voice interface, and a “SensorWeb.”
In December, when Mozilla announced a halt to development and sales of its open source, Linux-based Firefox OS mobile distribution, the company said it was already shifting the HTML5-focused open source Linux OS to Internet of Things projects. A month ago, Ari Jaaksi, Mozilla’s SVP of Connected Devices posted a blog entry noting progress on projects such as its Vaani voice interface. Jaaksi has now revealed more details on Vaani and three other projects, and invited open source developers to pitch in.
The first projects include a Project Start Home framework for a home automation system, as well as a Project Link personal user agent and Vaani voice interface that would work within such a framework. Finally, there’s a crowdsourced Project SensorWeb for tracking air pollution.
Conceptual diagram for Project SensorWeb
(click image to enlarge)
Interestingly, the term “Firefox OS” is not used in the latest announcement, despite the reference to Firefox OS Connected Devices in the previous post. Still, all the projects appear to use Firefox OS or Mozilla’s underlying Boot to Gecko (b2g) codebase. Mozilla is seeking testers, developers, and advisers, for all these open source projects.
Mozilla’s first four Connected Devices projects include:
- Project Smart Home — Billed as representing a “middle ground between ‘in a box’ solutions like Apple Homekit and DIY solutions like Raspberry Pi,” Project Smart Home is at a very early stage. The emphasis is now on evaluating current home automation systems, as well as the current and future needs of smart home customers.
- Project Link — Also at a very early stage, Project Link (formerly Foxlink) is a smart personal agent that would appear to fit into an overall Project Smart Home framework. The agent understands user preferences for automating and interacting with home devices “without entrusting your data to a third party,” says Mozilla.
Details are limited, but proposals include the use of REST APIs, as well as a device adapter and authentication and user management layers. The initial target devices at this conceptual stage include a Raspberry Pi board controlling a Philips Hue smart light.
Project Link sounds similar to the AI agent within the Silk Labs Sense home surveillance camera and automation hub. Silk Labs is led by former Mozilla execs, including Firefox OS co-developers Andreas Gal and Chris Jones. Sense, however, does not appear to be based directly on Firefox OS.
- Vaani — Backed by a larger development team than the other projects, the Vaani voice agent is dubbed an “IoT enabler package.” Vaani will let developers, device makers, and end users add a voice interface to their devices “in a flexible and customizable way, while avoiding the need to “’lock-in’ with one of the major commercial players,” says Mozilla, presumably referring to the likes of Google, Samsung, Amazon, or Apple. The project specifically notes the “staircase” approach of commercial vendors trying to lock in voice agent customers to a single “IoT back-end, user data collection, and AI” framework.
Vaani will initially target smart home systems, presumably including the fledgling Project Smart Home, but will also expand to a wider range of IoT applications, says Mozilla. Vaani is still in the brainstorming stage. Ideas have been floated such as “Our solutions could work really well for specific categories, be better at working offline / online, have a smaller memory footprint and do all this without the lock-ins.”
- SensorWeb — This collaborative, crowd-sourced framework for collecting and communicating sensor data will initially target the tracking of PM (particulate matter), such as dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. SensorWeb will specifically create a PM2.5 sensor network that would be able to track the real-time air quality in particular neighborhoods rather than entire communities.
With SensorWeb, anyone can set up a network and invite others to join in and both contribute their own sensor data and view real-time sensor results. Similar networks could be set up to monitoring variables such as “the current wait time at their favorite café” or “water quality from rivers close to the village, etc.,” says Mozilla.
In addition to the above, three early-stage “Portfolio Projects” are also currently listed on Mozilla’s Connected Devices wiki page:
- Project SmartTV — “building a web ecosystem for TV and the connected devices of tomorrow”
- WebVR — “bringing high performance virtual reality to the open web”
- FlyWebM — “enabling phones to discover and interact with electronics around them without relying on the cloud”
More information on the Mozilla’s four new Firefox OS based Connected Devices projects may be found in this Ari Jaaksi blog post.