Mozilla shifts its focus on IoT bandwagon from Firefox OS


Mozilla has been clarifying some of its plans to convert the Firefox OS project into four IoT based projects. At a casual glance this seems like a naive move that is doomed to failure. Just about everyone wants a slice of the action that is the Internet of Things (IoT), but few are very clear how to make it happen or what is required – even though they are all 100% sure that they know. Mozilla had a really good idea with Firefox OS. But the implementation was poor and progress slow. Without a market success it seems that Mozilla lacked the resources to keep working on it. So it decided to stop working on it. Instead Mozilla has proposed four IoT oriented projects:

Project Link: Your personal user agent that understands your preferences for how you want to interact with the world of devices in your home, and automate your connected world for you. All of this still done conveniently and securely, but completely under your control.

This sounds something like a sub-standard Siri or Cortana or something like Amazon’s Alexa. It’s also close in concept to Silk Labs Sense, from the IoT start-up founded by Andreas Gal, the former Mozilla CTO who has taken the Firefox OS team with him. The problem here is that projects of this sort require lots of resources by way of AI expertise and lots of cloud computing. Neither of which Mozilla has.

Project Sensor Web: The easiest path from sensors to open data for contributors to collaboratively build a detailed understanding of their living environments. We are launching a pilot project to build a crowdsourced pm2.5 sensor network.

As anyone who has attempted to do the same sort of thing will tell you, building sensor webs is very difficult. Not because the software is hard, it isn’t, but because the hardware is very tough to get right. Even if you design the right sort of hardware or use off the shelf hardware, you have the problem of organizing the communication network. Again you need significant cloud computing.

Project Smart Home: A middle ground between “in a box” solutions like Apple Homekit and DIY solutions like Raspberry Pi. Combining modular, affordable hardware with easy-to-use rules, Smart Home empowers people to solve unique everyday problems in new and creative ways.

This is a more reasonable project and there is a significant software problem to be solved. Of course, others have already solved it, Cayenne for example, and it does all depend what you mean by “middle ground”. Again there is probably a need for significant cloud computing resources.

Project Vaani: An IoT enabler package to developers, device makers and users who want to add a voice interface to their devices in a flexible and customizable way. We will prototype interactions at home in near term, and in future, showcase the ability to access services from the open Web.

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