In theory linking connected devices to each other and to web services should be easy, but in reality it’s very hard because every box speaks a different language. For example a you might connect to a doorbell via Zigbee but to an Amazon server using an API.
Tools to offer translation between devices and then back to web services are incredibly common and range from protocols such as Thread or Z-Wave to services like If This Then That. There are also a million APIs available for the makers of hubs or other developer programs to cobble together apps that can link our many connected gizmos.
However, each tool has its drawbacks and nothing is as universal as IP or HTTP, so two former Bechtel executives are trying to reduce complexity with a new toolset and service. I’ve covered the initial tool, code created by Chris Matthieu called Skynet.im that links everything from servers to drones together. Yes, it is named after that Skynet. When I last spoke to him he was trying to figure out how to turn the code into a real business.
He may be about to succeed. Matthieu has teamed up with Geir Ramleth (pictured above), the former CIO of Bechtel, to create Octoblu. Ramleth, now CEO and co-founder of Octoblu spoke with me last week about the startup’s plans for turning the Skynet code to link devices into a real business. The first step is renaming Skynet to Meshblu.
Meshblu can be used for the discovery, control and management of any API-based software application, any hardware or appliance, or social media network. It can connect devices that run many different protocols across a common platform. And for Octoblu, the additional services it offers will be on security, compliance and auditing — something Ramleth is familiar with from his days at Bechtel.
Thus, some time in September Octoblu will launch a service that offers companies the ability to run and control Meshblu software as well as the ability to set parameters about who can access the controls and data and who can’t. Meshblu will remain open source, but the security elements will be offered by Octoblu either as a service or via software if a company wants to run it themselves or as a hybrid setup.
Unlike many of existing clouds that let companies send data from their connected devices to the cloud, the Octoblu service mediates the connections between devices making it a slightly different type of tool. I’m really excited by what these guys are trying to do and wonder if it’s possible it becomes the way out of mass of imperfect standards and non-interoperability we have today.