Existing search engines won't support Internet of Things: Experts

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Internet search mechanisms will need to change to support the Internet of Things (IoT) whereby billions of devices will become connected, say experts.

"Search engines have come a long way since their original purpose of locating documents, but they still lack the connection between social, physical and cyber data which will be needed in the IoT era," said the study's lead author Payam Barnaghi, Reader in Machine Intelligence at the University of Surrey in England.

"IoT data retrieval will require efficient and scalable indexing and ranking mechanisms, and also integration between the services provided by smart devices and data discovery," Barnaghi said.

With more and more IoT devices being connected to the internet, there is an urgent need to develop new search solutions which will allow information from IoT sources to be found and extracted, the researchers said.

Complex future technologies such as smart cities, autonomous cars and environmental monitoring will demand machine-to-machine searches that are automatically generated depending on location, preferences and local information.

New requirements will include being able to access numerical and sensory data, and providing secure ways of accessing data without exposing the devices to hackers.

"IoT technologies such as autonomous cars, smart cities and environmental monitoring could have a very positive impact on millions of lives. Our goal is to consider the many complex requirements and develop solutions which will enable these exciting new technologies," Barnaghi noted.

The article highlighting the latest research in this area by academics at the University of Surrey and Wright State University in the US was published in the journal IEEE Intelligent Systems.

While in the past, human users have searched for information on the web, the IoT will see more machine-to-machine searches which are automatically generated depending on location, preferences and local information.

Autonomous vehicles, for example, will need to automatically collect data (such as traffic and weather information) from various sources without a human user being involved.

The IoT also presents a challenge in terms of cyber security. Applications which rely on public data, such as smart city technologies, need to be very accessible to make them available to a wide range of applications and services.

"I see tremendous opportunities to effectively utilise physical (especially IoT), cyber and social data by improving the abilities of machines to convert diverse data into meaningful abstractions that matter to human experiences and decision making," Amit Sheth of Ohio Center of Excellence in Knowledge-Enabled Computing at Wright State University said.

"IoT search, particularly for devices or machines to interact with each other to find and aggregate relevant information on a human's behalf, will become a critical enabler," Sheth noted.

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