What is HyperCat? Exploring the interoperable 'Internet of Things' specification

TRP: How important is the manner that corporations communicate that cost-reward factor to consumers?

JA: I think what will need to happen at every step that data is transferred from one player, stakeholder or organisation to another, that there needs to be a policy associated with that data as it's transferred.

We've seen some problems recently with systems put in place to support the NHS, which has seen different vendors responsible for different parts of the system that haven't worked out how to pass the data across and swap policies from one provider to another, which is where it falls down.

There are other aspects of security that lie around making sure nobody has tampered with the sensor, then there is the physical security that sits on a chip, as well as the security of making sure there are no viruses on your database. There are all different kinds of security, but making sure you have the right policy associated with the use of that data and the authorisation of that data for use within different applications is very important.

Vendor lock-in?

TRP: If vendors adopt the HyperCat standard, would that reduce the chance of vendor 'lock-in' that we've experienced in the cloud world?

JA: If the principles by which the information is communicated between one party and another are open standards and we all agree that this is the way we'll communicate those policies, then that takes the lock-in out.

There will be vendors that come along with solutions that will manage that whole process better than others, but so long as they're able to plugged in or out dependant on how good a job they're doing, rather than plugged in or out because they effectively control the whole stack, that will be the key.

Can you replace IBM with FlexEye, or visa versa, if you need to? That's the question. if you can't then we have problems, which leads to organisations working to their own strengths. If Flexeye has a better solution for managing the authorisation process than IBM, then it should be the one that's managing that process for somebody, but you should be able to switch them out if necessary.

Training machines

TRP: How is HyperCat, and by extension IoT going to improve our everyday lives?

JA: Without any question we're moving into a world where a lot of tasks will be performed that humans might have had to perform in the past. The other side of the question is what about jobs? Are there going to be any jobs left for us to do?

It's important to recognise that these machines are very good at processing information once they've been provided with the context, but they need to be trained, and we need to continue to train them. Our brains have 100 billion neurone inside them that can process lots of different things and intuitively can get to answers that machines can't get to.

There's always going to be a requirement to move to ask the human at a certain point in time, so we're going to be come increasingly responsible for managing the exceptions that come along, and they will happen all the time and our brains will be needed to do that.

For consumers, one of the key things is that if our products that we buy are going to have sensors in them, it will change the way we might work with our products and the way that we interact with stuff around us, but it'll also change the way that we interface with those companies that sell things to us.

If you look at the industrial space, at Rolls Royce, they sell their aircraft engines not as engines, but based on how many hours they're in the air. Their whole business model is making sure they can service the aircraft staying in the air.

When we as consumers move to a business model that isn't 'we're going to buy a thing', but 'we're going to buy a thing that I will pay for in some way shape or another based on usage or something else', then that changes the relationship I have and ensures that the things I buy will be good quality, because if they're not the vendors aren't going to make any money, so it'll drive toward a high quality use of technology.

We'll also find that the products given to us are more compliant with a broad range of policies that are important for us to be complying with as citizens. We clearly need to be looking at a more energy efficient planet, and IoT gives us a way to drive higher levels of energy efficiency. We can switch off lights automatically, or manage streetlights, or manage congestion in cities by helping us find parking spots.

Playing nicely

TRP: How will HyperCat play with other IoT standards, such as Neul's Weightless standard for "white space" communications?

JA: We're focusing on the piece that makes the information on the data and thing available as it goes from analogue to digital, whereas Neul and Weightless are focused on spectrum. There are a whole load of challenges around spectrum as we move from licensed to unlicensed.

There are operators who want to control that spectrum as much as they can - they don't particularly like unlicensed spectrum being used and there's a big drive to try and bring that under control in some way - but at the moment it's not.

You've got a whole bunch of spectrum that's unlicensed that allows us to innovate in a way that reduces that cost, and long may that last.

TRP: When will we see HyperCat-compatible devices?

JA: They're already out there. The important thing is that it's not so much the device, it's how that device makes itself readable.

Kane Fulton
Kane has been fascinated by the endless possibilities of computers since first getting his hands on an Amiga 500+ back in 1991. These days he mostly lives in realm of VR, where he's working his way into the world Paddleball rankings in Rec Room.