(We created the Comcast Innovation Fund to support important research into the future of the Internet, with a focus on broadband, security and open-source development. In this series, we highlight grantees and their work.)

The Comcast Innovation Fund is pleased to announce the award of a grant to support Internet of Things research at Oakland University. The project, under the direction of Dr. Erik Fredericks, is entitled “Developing Context-Aware Strategies to Minimize Network Impact on an Internet of Things Home Network”. 

Given the relative level of sophistication of some IoT devices, some may continually perform network tasks such as pushing updates to the consumer or maintaining a local web server to provide access for device performance metrics. As such, these IoT devices may unnecessarily increase network traffic. This research will explore methods to minimize the overall impact that devices within an IoT-based network can impart, while still delivering a high level of service. 

The research will use a model that is self-adaptive (i.e., able to reconfigure at run time) and multi-agent (i.e., each device is autonomous). Anticipated network adaptations include reconfiguring individual devices to optimize network traffic and/or power draw, and anticipated agents can comprise consumer devices, monitoring agents, and testing agents. Eventual research contributions may include run-time techniques for minimizing network latency, reducing unnecessary power draw in the context of a self-adaptive, multi-agent IoT network, and a real-world exemplar IoT network, based on a typical household, that comprises affordable and interconnected devices.

Given the rapid growth and security issues observed thus far for IoT, this will be very interesting research. If successful, ISPs, IoT service providers, IoT device manufacturers, software developers, and others may be able to leverage this work to improve the network efficiency, and performance of current or future IoT devices and services.