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Daedalus was the mythical great architect and artificer of the classical world. Today, embedded intelligence is enabling the most profound changes in the way we create and use buildings since his day.

Building Intelligence meets the Intelligent Building. The Intelligent Building negotiates with the Intelligent Grid. How will this transform how we interact with the physical world?

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« Making Smart Energy Less Exceptional | BSI Part 3: The Metadata Problem »
Saturday
Jan292011

Converging with the Internet of Things

Service integration is coming to the world of Calendars. Calendars are coming to the Internet of Things. These two trends have the potential to open up whole new classes of easy integration in buildings and in personal devices. This integration got its initial acceleration from the needs of smart energy. The long term reach, though, is much farther.

Traditional e-calendars are store, copy, and forward messages. There are five copies of a meeting for five people. Changing a meeting time requires finding and updating those five messages. This is easy if the messages are on a small office LAN on one server. It poses some daunting problems if those messages are spread over two corporate servers, Gmail, a stand-alone PC, and a cell phones. If 50 are attending that meeting, things can get complex. If it is a community schedule, with 5,000 subscribers, it is almost impossible to support the diversity of clients.

Jon Udell (http://blog.jonudell.net/) has long advocated distributed calendars for communities, encouraging people and organizations to be the authoritative sources for their schedules instead of sending a flurry of messages that may soon be out of date. (If you are interested, read all you can on the ElmCity Project.) Jon’s blog introduced me to Mark Surman and the phrase “cities that think like the web” (http://commonspace.wordpress.com/). When we apply these approaches to Smart Energy, we may get “grids that think like the web.”

The way that WS-Calendar has developed since Thanksgiving makes this all easier. Standard REST and SOAP services for calendar communications reduce the barriers to distributed community calendaring. Mike Douglas is testing his SOAP concepts to synchronize dissimilar calendar servers (Exchange and BedeWorks). Community Calendars are about to get much easier to implement.

WS-Calendar, though, was created to support smart energy. Schedules and events for energy shortage and surplus, communicated along with volatile prices.

There is a long history of simple calendar communications for small devices. Older cell phones interacted with iCalendar communications despite extreme resource constraints. Open source and silicon already exists for simple calendar processing. When these services get reduced chips that we can afford to put everywhere some interesting things happen.

Consider a Calendar Service on your smart thermostat. Add a community calendar server to your house. Maybe it’s on the magnetized thin film computer stuck to the front of the refrigerator. Maybe it’s on your wireless router. The home community calendar shares schedule services with the Dad’s Android, with Mom’s Blackberry, and with the Kids iPhones. Maybe, following the Elm City model, the house calendar subscribes to the high school community server, and that of the church as well. The electric car will need this kind of information, and can create charging schedules that are themselves shared. Messages about schedule electricity shortage and abundance come through the Energy Services Interface (ESI).

Then we would have a smart thermostat that thinks like the web, in a house that thinks like the web.

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