A New Future for the WebThings IoT Platform

Ben Francis
Dec 3, 2020 · 5 min read

After four years of incubation at Mozilla, Krellian is proud to become the new commercial sponsor of WebThings, an open platform for monitoring and controlling devices over the web.

Today we are announcing the release of WebThings Gateway 1.0 and setting out a vision for the future of the WebThings project.

WebThings

WebThings is an open source implementation of emerging W3C Web of Things standards and consists of three main components:

  • WebThings Gateway — a software distribution for smart home gateways which enables users to directly monitor and control their home over the web, without a middleman
  • WebThings Framework — a collection of re-usable software components to help developers build their own web things which directly expose the Web Thing Protocol
  • WebThings Cloud — a collection of cloud services for securely deploying connected devices and remotely managing them over the internet

Flying the Nest

Having co-founded the project whilst working at Mozilla, I joined discussions with two of my former colleagues Michael Stegeman and David Bryant about spinning out WebThings as an independent open source project. We worked with Mozilla on an agreement to transition the project to a new community-run home at webthings.io, and have spent the last three months working together on that transition.

WebThings Gateway 1.0

You can read more about the 1.0 release and the transition of existing gateways to the new infrastructure on the Mozilla Hacks blog.

Krellian & WebThings

In the short term Krellian will be leveraging the WebThings Cloud remote access service as part of our new digital signage platform. In the longer term we plan to explore other enterprise use cases for the WebThings platform, to help make buildings smarter, safer and more sustainable.

These commercial applications of WebThings will help provide revenue streams to support the long term sustainability of the open source project and allow it to continue to develop and grow.

The WebThings Community

Amongst their achievements is the translation of WebThings Gateway into 34 spoken languages, the creation of over a hundred gateway add-ons and the building of countless DIY projects in a dozen different programming languages. Community members have contributed their time and effort to help build and promote WebThings and support other members in using it in thousands of private smart homes around the world.

We intend to support the community to continue with their great work, and have put in place an open governance structure to distribute decision making and foster leadership amongst the global WebThings community.

Future Roadmap

W3C Compliance

We’d like to work towards making WebThings compliant with this standard, as there are still a remaining number of differences between the W3C and Mozilla specifications. In order to fill in the gaps between Mozilla’s Web Thing API and the W3C’s Thing Description standard, we plan to continue to lead work on standardising the Web Thing Protocol as a concrete protocol for communicating with devices over the web.

Production Gateway OS

As the platform matures, we would like to explore a more production-quality IoT operating system like Ubuntu Core or Balena OS on which to base the WebThings Gateway distribution.

This will have the following benefits:

  1. A smaller footprint, reducing the minimum system requirements for running the gateway
  2. Enabling the targeting of a wider range of hardware for consumer and enterprise use cases
  3. Better security, through containerisation and automatic software updates for the underlying operating system

WebThings Controller

Krellian would like to explore new controller software built on our open source Krellian Kiosk web runtime, which could allow for touch and voice input. This software would be designed so that it could either run on the same device as the gateway software, or on a separate controller device.

WebThings App

  1. Help to streamline the setup process of a WebThings Gateway
  2. Act as a client for native web things which don’t need a gateway
  3. Help with the standardisation process by providing a user friendly reference implementation of a Web of Things client

WebThings Cloud

We’re excited about this new chapter in the WebThings story, and look forward to working closely with the community on our vision of a connected world where technology is seamlessly woven into the spaces around us and improves the lives of those who use it.

You can find out more about WebThings at its new home of webthings.io, follow @WebThingsIO on Twitter and sign up for the email newsletter to keep up to date with all the latest news.

Krellian

Smart Buildings. Making our built environment smarter, safer and more sustainable.

Krellian

Smart Buildings. Making our built environment smarter, safer and more sustainable.

Ben Francis

Written by

Founder of Krellian. W3C Invited Expert on Web Applications and the Web of Things. Previously: Mozilla & Google. tola.me.uk

Krellian

Smart Buildings. Making our built environment smarter, safer and more sustainable.