HyperCat: a British way to connect the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things has a problem: there’s too many humans involved in letting machines talk.

There’s a solution: an interoperability layer dubbed HyperCat (this being the internet, everything is about cats).

Created by a British consortium, HyperCat lets an app find information it can use in a web service, across the internet, or on some other data source. For example, a weather app could look at a temperature measuring service, see that it has temperature data, and pull that out – without any human intervention or coding.

HyperCat has been designed to move us from the Internet of Silos to the Internet of Things

This solves one of the problems of the so-called Internet of Things: incompatibility. At the moment, for that app to be able to talk to the service, a human needs to read the service’s documentation and create a bit of code to tell the app how to get the information.

That slows the spread of connected services, creating a human-coding bottleneck. HyperCat automates that, taking people out of the equation and letting machines get talking.

“HyperCat has been designed to move us from the Internet of Silos to the Internet of Things,” said Pilgrim Beart, CEO of IoT start-up 1248, part of the HyperCat development consortium. “Previously, applications were vertically-integrated, working only with specific services, which confines data to narrow vertical silos.”

“HyperCat enables apps to discover data across all services, freeing machines from the human programmer bottleneck and allowing a many-to-many relationship to develop, which is the key to IoT,” he added.

Made in Britain

HyperCat was created by a group of 40 UK-based companies and organisations – from ARM to BT, and local councils to universities – and funded to the dune of £6.4 million by the Technology Strategy Board.

While it does have big-name support, it doesn’t have Google or Apple on side – and they’ll need to use HyperCat for it to become the defacto way to communicate on the IoT. That’s not guaranteed to happen.

“If a company is leading in a market why on earth would they do anything that would make it easier for their competitors to enter?” Dr Ian Brown, from the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, said to the BBC.

“Sometimes there will be circumstances that will persuade them that if they open up in this way they can grow the overall market larger,” he said. “But the hard economics is that they may be reluctant to do that.”

Watch the below video for an explanation on how HyperCat works:

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