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Thingful, a startup out of the U.K., aims to build a search engine for the internet of things, and it has upgraded its beta effort with some new features. The site allows people to find connected devices, from shark monitors to Raspberry Pis, based on the object and where it is located.
For example, it might be great to discover a Netatmo weather station located within a block or two of your home. With Thingful, you could do that, and now with upgrades that let you add devices to your watch list you could actually get updates from that weather station every time it updates.
In addition to helping people find connected objects and their data, people can verify ownership of their things and then add those data streams to their Twitter or Facebook profiles, giving them a single view of all their devices. Ideally I’d like to use something like Freeboard as my platform and avoid annoying my friends and followers with constant weather updates.
But the site could help people tie into valuable resources. For example I like taking my dog for a walk near a creek that can sporadically flood, even if the rain is miles away. If there were sensors at the creek (and there might be given how my local watershed management authority gathers data) and they were on Thingful, before I hopped into the car and drove the four miles to get there I could check a weather station at the creek and water depth sensors for a sense of how muddy my dog might get if I make the trip. Instead of driving all the way there, seeing the ankle-deep mud and giving the dog her third bath of the week because I don’t have the heart to turn around without walking the trail, I can save her (and me) some bath-time drama.
The idea is to help build a true community of connected devices and use the resources and data already around us, as opposed to running out and building a system from scratch. Thingful founder Usman Haque discussed this idea on a podcast with me earlier this year and will also be talking about the community aspects of search and the internet of things at our Structure Connect event Oct. 21 and 22.
As a founder of Pachube, which was later purchased by [company]LogMeIn[/company] and became the Xively platform, Haque has been thinking about the internet of things for years, trying to build out some kind of organizing system that lets people share data as opposed to sending it up to some corporate entity. In a way his vision is similar to the web in the sense that hyperlinks let people refer back to all kinds of useful information without having to recreate it in their own sites. I’m not sure search is the right model for this effort, but the end goal is worth reaching.