Introduction to Web of Things (WoT): Here’s Everything You Need to Know
January 20, 2022
If you are a beginner in the latest technologies, you would have heard of the terms ‘internet of things' and ‘web of things.’ Most people have a fair idea of them. However, the latter is still a developing field, and many don’t know much about it.
This blog post will uncover the cloud of vagueness to give you an understanding clear as day. Let’s get started!
Why Do We Need the Web of Things (WoT)?
There’s no doubt that the internet of things (IoT) has made things easier for us, but it also brings in complexities as the number of devices around us increases. One of the significant hurdles in the widespread adoption of IoT has been the difficulty communicating and managing all these devices.
To communicate with your ten IoT devices, you need ten mobile applications. This won’t be convenient as you will have to switch between one app to another. Unfortunately, that is happening with most IoT devices.
The problem is that there’s not a single “lingua franca” spoken by every object – there are hundreds! The worst part is that most of these IoT protocols and standards aren’t compatible with each other, and for this reason, the IoT hasn’t been able to actualize its full potential.
Connecting devices to the internet and giving them IP addresses is only the first step towards the internet of things as it facilitates data exchange. However, it doesn’t guarantee that devices understand what it means.
That’s why we need something like HTTP, a universal way to transfer data in text, images, sound, and other media elements so that devices communicate with each other. The Web of Things – or WoT – is what fills this vacuum by using and adapting Web protocols to connect anything in the physical world and give it a presence on the World Wide Web!
Definition of Web of Things (WoT)
Web of Things (WoT) refers to a set of standards formed by the world wide web consortium (W3C) to facilitate the interoperability, fragmentation, and usability of the Internet of Things (IoT). In other words, it is a subset of the internet of things (IoT) and is built around software standards such as REST, HTTP, and URIs to allow devices to interact with one another.
WoT vs. IoT
When we look from a distance, the purpose served by both IoT and WoT is very similar. Their motive is to connect smart devices to the internet. There are some minor differences on paper, but they play a significant role when you know the critical meaning behind them. When trying to elaborate their differences, the purpose each serves is the same, but the implementation is where the difference becomes apparent.
When you compare the internet of things with cooking, it is the utensil of a dish. It does not get affected by what is being put into it or the result. It is just serving its purpose as a medium for the ingredients to be mixed. It connects all the ingredients but does not confirm whether the outcome will be delicious or sour.
Whereas, when we talk about the web of things, all the other necessary things build the entire recipe - ingredients, spices, herbs, or stove. Everything combines to become the web of things.
IoT is the resolved networking layer between all the devices. That means every individual device needs a medium to communicate with one another. IoT development services serve the purpose of providing every device with a medium to transport information from point A to point B.
However, it has nothing to do with how the data transfers, what the information is, or the purpose of reaching the desired destination. This is a huge limitation that becomes quite noticeable.
Without such standards, it doesn’t make sense to call it the “internet” of things. WoT bridges this gap as it works as an application layer. WoT fixes the rules of the road. The pure existence of WoT is to set systematic paths for the information to transfer between points and ensure compatibility with source and destination.
WoT is not a competition or a substitute for IoT but rather a subset of it. The purpose of WoT is to enhance the features of IoT. It fulfills the purpose by curating the standard definitions and models on how the devices will be represented on the internet.
The Web of Things (WoT) Architecture:
The WoT is composed of many different progressing architectural standards. Many organizations proposed the standards prompted by W3C. This complete standardization by the world wide web consortium is the foundation of various building blocks. These are:
- Layer 1 - Accessibility / Access
- Layer 2 - Findability / Find
- Layer 3 - Sharing / Share
- Layer 4 - Composition / Compose
Let’s dive into these to gain a better understanding.
Layer 1- Accessibility:
This layer converts anything into a web thing. This will enable us to interact with the converted web thing with HTTP requests. To put it more simply, a web thing is a REST API that permits us to communicate with anything in the actual world.
- REST API
- URL / URI
Layer 2 - Findability:
It is one thing to make the data more accessible, but it is wholly different than the applications can understand what the data is or the purpose. For this purpose, the second layer comes into action.
It ensures that other HTTP users can use your device, and it is easily discoverable and workable by different WoT applications. It is done by resing the semantic web standards to explain the things and their purpose of existing.
- REST Crawler
- Linked Data
- Link Header
- Search Engines
Layer 3 - Sharing:
Just like you secure your piggy bank away from your sibling’s reach, this layer does the same work for WoT. This layer’s job is to find a safe way to transfer the data across services securely. Different protocols are used at this level, such as TLS, OAuth, etc.
- Social Networks
Layer 4 - Composition:
- Systems Integration
- Automated UI generation
- Web Application
An Example of Web of Things (WoT) Application:
Let’s say you are trying to build a smart home, and you buy many IoT-enabled appliances such as Smart TV, refrigerator, door, CCTV cameras, etc. To manage these things from your smartphone, you will need to have different applications for different devices. Plus, you will need to ensure that these devices communicate to put them in use.
Let’s understand this with a practical example. In case of a burglary, you want your CCTV camera to give a signal to your security alarm system and warn you. This can be made possible by WoT as it establishes communication protocols and standards to create a ‘web’ of things.
Web of things (WoT) is the future improvised version of this existing thing. Web of things is trying to lay down a standardized communication protocol so that every device can communicate with one another. We can make IoT communication as easy as browsing on the internet!
Kamal Rupareliya, a Director of Products at Intuz, focuses on innovation through technology such as IoT, JAMStack, and Serverless Computing. He is an expert in IoT, Mobile Design, and Product Strategy, and he loves applying inventive ways to utilize technology and empathy towards creating remarkable digital software products.