Research at Orange (third part): we are shaping the IoT

With 25 billion connected objects expected by 2020, the IoT promises to revolutionize our daily lives. However, a technological framework must be put in place if this technology is to stimulate the creativity of a large number of innovators. Orange has made a commitment in this area by mobilizing its research teams to get ready for the connected life we will lead in the future

Focus on interconnecting objects

"IoT refers to the extension of the Internet to the physical world, and moreover to the merging between the physical and digital worlds"  explains Thierry Coupaye, Director of the IoT research area at Orange.

Lyse Brillouet, Director of the Digital Society’s Research Area at Orange states: “The IoT will make our daily relationship with digital technology ever more profound and intuitive. An eloquent example is home automation, which is based on the centralization and interconnection of the various systems that digitalize our environment. Tomorrow, your alarm system, your radio, and all your other devices will be activated in series by very simple and natural commands.”

In time, the IoT will be composed of objects capable of communicating and interacting with each other in scenarios created by a human being. In order for all the elements to function together in a coordinated and fluid fashion, the Internet ofThings will make use of the various technological building blocks which Orange Research is now working on:

  • the creation of a standard language common to all sensors in the Internet of Things so as to allow them to communicate with each other,
  • the implementation of a service platform that acts as an intermediary between objects with different protocols and characteristics,
  • the implementation of vocal guidance technologies such as the assistant Alice that allow communication with a connected object via a personal assistant,
  • studies on usages in specific sectors such as healthcare and transportation.

Thierry Coupaye, Directeur du Domaine de Recherche IoT chez Orange.
IoT refers to the extension of the Internet to the physical world, and ultimatelyto the merging between the physical and digital worlds.
Thierry Coupaye, Director of the IoT research area at Orange.

Making the IoT more secure: backup from the blockchain!

Lyse Brillouet reminds us: “Contrary to preconceived notions, connected objects will not necessarily have a single owner. They will also be able to be loaned and used as public or collective devices. It is therefore necessary to implement a data access management system to screen individual usages or place time limits on individual usage.” To respond to these needs, Orange Research is attempting to exploit the potential of blockchain technology, which has its origins in finance.

The blockchain is a decentralized technology to store and transmit information. It allows the creation of shared databases – without intermediaries – that store all exchanges made between its users. Although it is mainly employed to transfer assets such as virtual currencies – for example, the bitcoin – its characteristics could make it a robust real-time access management system for connected objects.

Wide open fields of application

Orange Research teams are showing a keen interest in the IoT since it offers new perspectives in a number of sectors, above all in the area of smart cities. The goal is to exploit the potential of connected objects to optimize use of energy resources and enhance transportation flows. In Alba Iulia in Romania, a comprehensive system based on installed sensors allows users to perform actions such as analyze transportation flows, measure environmental parameters, and manage public lighting and water supply.

Lyse Brillouet
The IoT will make our daily relationship with digital technology ever more profound and intuitive
Lyse Brillouet, Director of the Digital Society’s Research Area at Orange.

Healthcare is also a promising research area. In addition to the gathering of health data, which was initiated by wearables, the IoT will allow the creation of a chain of objects that collects information regarding medical practices and respect of patient privacy laws and regulations. Experiments with the blockchain technology might also lead to patient consent management methods.

Lyse Brillouet predicts: “The connected vehicle opens a wide field of interdisciplinary research. In this area, the IoT offers interesting possibilities in the areas of digital services to passengers, real-time vehicle performance monitoring, analysis of transportation infrastructures, and traffic management.” In order to cover the wide range of possibilities offered by connected objects, Orange is forming research partnerships with companies such as PSA and Ericsson.

Find out more about the research at Orange