We need more flexible Internet of Things (IoT) systems and a common understanding of what characterises them, according to Malmö University researcher Fahed Alkhabbas.

IoT is about our connected everyday objects and devices such as sensors, vehicles, and electrical appliances.

“We want the user to achieve their goal without the need to worry about how available devices can achieve it”, says Alkhabbas, a PhD student at the Internet of Things and People (IOTAP) research centre, who recently defended his thesis, Towards Emergent Configurations in the Internet of Things.

According to Alkhabbas, we lack a common understanding of IoT systems and their constituents. He highlights that the IoT is often a dynamic and uncertain environment where unforeseen situations can happen. At a meeting, for example, the projector can suddenly lose connection.

“Most IoT systems rely on predefined processes for achieving user goals, and that is why these systems have shortcomings in coping with dynamicity and uncertainty – for example when devices suddenly move or lose connection,” says Alkhabbas.

Therefore, it’s important that systems can automatically adapt to dynamic changes.

“We need more flexible systems that can act on events that happen during use. For example, if a projector loses its connection, your presentation should automatically be connected to a screen that is available in the meeting room,” he adds.

To meet these challenges, Alkhabbas and his colleagues at IOTAP use the concept Emergent Configurations (EC) as a basis to engineer IoT systems. An EC consists of a dynamic set of devices with their functionalities and services that cooperate temporarily to achieve a user goal.

Text: Magnus Jando