Google seeks proposals for Internet of Things research expedition

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is formally seeking proposals from university faculty members for pioneering research related to the Internet of Things (IoT). It's all part of its mission to make IoT devices as easy to discover and interact with as it is to find and use information on the open web.

One of the key tenets the request for proposal (RFP) makes clear is the need for an open ecosystem. "Open innovation is a core principle of this program to make the Internet of Things a reality for everybody," the RFP states.

As VentureBeat reports, one of the leaders on this project is famed Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, chief Internet evangelist at Google and an engineer who was instrumental in laying the foundation for the modern-day Internet.

Others listed as technical leads on the team include Chris DiBona, director of Open Source & Science Outreach; Yossi Matias, vice president of Search & Israel Site Lead, lead Applications and UX; Yoky Matsuoka, vice president of Nest technology; and Lawrence You, director of Privacy, lead Privacy & Security.

Google is planning to set up a research and open innovation expedition to explore the foundational elements to enable "easy development of smart and secure Internet of Things applications and services," according to the RFP. It envisions research at the intersection of disciplines including, but not limited to, human-computer interaction (HCI); privacy and security; and systems and products.

Google says a variety of its own experts and product groups will play a role in the expedition, either by contributing expertise or providing related technology. Experts from Android, Chrome, Cloud Platform and Internet-connected home products like Nest will be involved in the program.

The overall mission is to enable effective use and spur broad adoption of the IoT by making it as easy to discover and interact with connected devices as it is to find and use information on the open Web. "The resulting ecosystem should facilitate experimentation with applications and user experience, ensure privacy and security, and develop systems and protocols that guarantee interoperability."

Interoperability will be key in the IoT, and many groups, including Google, are chasing that dream through what they deem as open standards efforts, the idea being that a common communications protocol will be required to get the biggest bang for the buck, so to speak.

Earlier this year, Google announced the Physical Web, an approach to enable people to walk up to any smart device, be it a vending machine, poster, toy, bus stop or rental car, and be able to tap away without having to download an app first. It's an early stage experimental project designed to develop a system that lets anyone interact with any device at any time.

For this most recent research project, Google envisions proposals that will identify and answer challenging social interaction questions around the IoT, such as user consent, privacy policy and permissions, data deletion, authentication, identity management, scalability, and new security threats, among others.

Google expects to make several awards under the program. Awards for the one-year Expedition Lead Grant range from $500,000 to $800,000 while one-time individual project grants range from $50,000 to $150,000.

The deadline for submission is Jan. 21, 2015, so interested parties better get cracking.

For more:
- see the VentureBeat story
- see this Computerworld story
- see this Google blog
- see Google's RFP

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