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FIT IoT-Lab puts connected objects to the test

FIT Iot-Lab - © Inria / Photo J. Vandaele

Designed as a test-bed for the technologies underlying the Internet of Things, the FIT IoT-Lab was officially opened at Inria Lille – Nord Europe.The lab will provide an innovative new infrastructure for researchers and manufacturers.

The aim of FIT IoT-Lab is to provide an facility for testing the technologies of the Internet of Things in a full-scale environment. Founded by a group of French laboratories, the platform has been built at the Inria Lille - Nord Europe research center at Villeneuve d’Ascq, with support from other sites across France. “FIT IoT-Lab provides users with a network of wireless sensors, all accessible remotely ”, explains Nathalie Mitton, Inria researcher and manager of the Fun project team, “These networks make it possible to test control algorithms for connected objects. Research teams, major manufacturers and SMEs can now put their technologies to the test without the need for each of them to invest in expensive equipment ”. Created as part of the FIT project (see panel), IoT-Lab is a development of the SensLAB project. The network of sensors has been expanded from the original 1000 on the four SensLAB sites (Lille, Rennes, Strasbourg and Grenoble) to today’s total of 2700, spread over eight sites.*

Sensors for data collection

Nathalie Mitton - © Inria / Photo P. Caron

On each of the platform sites, the networked sensors are installed in meeting rooms, offices and corridors ”, continues Nathalie Mitton, “The sensors collect environmental data, such as the light intensity, the noise level, or the ambient temperature. This data is then transmitted by radio ”. In this way, IoT-Lab provides a tool to investigate the interactions between these sensors and study methods of collecting and analyzing the data. It also offers a valuable resource for optimizing signal processing, filtering interference and addressing the problems of battery life and energy consumption.

Today, the web interface has almost 850 user accounts in 63 countries, with over 60 % using the platform regularly.

Focus on users

The test networks are accessed via a web interface. It is possible to download software remotely, to control the sensors during the experiment, and to upload the collected data. Users also have access to a set of tools for debugging and monitoring. The architecture is offered free of charge to research teams, academics and businesses. Today, the web interface has almost 850 user accounts in 63 countries, with over 60 % using the platform regularly. Eighty percent of the registered users belong to academic institutions, while 20 % come from the commercial sector. A number of major international groups are users of IoT-Lab, including Orange, Thales and Alcatel.


FIT IoT-Lab - © Inria / Photo J. Vandaele

The test platform based at Villeneuve d'Ascq has become an essential tool for the twenty or so scientists who make up the Fun project team working on self-organization protocols for ubiquitous wireless networks. Especially as it gives them access to a significant asset in the form of a collection of robots capable of testing moving objects. “The platform makes it possible to program the robots and test their movements in response to stimuli transmitted by the networks of fixed and on-board sensors ”, explains Nathalie Mitton. Examples include the ability to test algorithms for monitoring the movements of wild animals. The platform could also be used to develop applications to detect forest fires using networks of temperature sensors, together with algorithms capable of organizing the deployment of fire-fighting vehicles as the situation on the ground changes. Another possible application is the use of robots to explore hazardous areas such as those contaminated by chemical or radioactive leaks, using algorithms to automate and coordinate their movements.

Users will soon be able to visit the Lille site to install their own equipment and connected objects.

A project that continues to grow

IoT-Lab is bringing a range of innovations, including the possibility of carrying out tests on a very large scale using a multi-site infrastructure that is highly heterogeneous in terms of topology and hardware architecture. Additional functionality will also be released shortly. “Users will soon be able to visit the Lille site to install their own equipment and connected objects ”, explains Nathalie Mitton, and we shall soon be offering new ways of controlling the robots ”. Finally, the group of robots on the Lille site is due to be enlarged from the current six to a total of 64 machines by the summer of 2016.

* The eight sites making up the IoT-Lab platform: Inria Lille – Nord Europe (640 sensors), Inria Grenoble (928 sensors), ICube Strasbourg (400 sensors), Inria Paris – Rocquencourt (344 sensors), Inria Rennes – Bretagne Atlantique (256 sensors), Institut Mines-Télécom Paris (160 sensors).

FIT: State-of-the-art equipment to build the Internet of tomorrow

The IoT-Lab platform is part of a larger infrastructure known as FIT (Future Internet of Things). Set up in 2011, FIT is the outcome of a partnership bringing together five French academic and research organizations; Inria, the Pierre and Marie Curie University, the University of Strasbourg, the Institut Mines Télécom, and the CNRS. Its objective: To provide a shared test infrastructure for the various types of innovative Internet technology.

FIT brings together a number of independent test facilities, including FIT Iot-Lab for testing connected objects, CorteXlab for testing cognitive radio systems, and FIT OneLab for testing distributed Wi-Fi networks. In addition to this test infrastructure, FIT provides added value through the resources and tools that it offers to facilitate access to these platforms and their use by research organizations, manufacturers and SMEs.

FIT is one of the 52 projects funded by the French government as part of its investment for the future program,Programme d'Investissements d'Avenir(PIA), launched in 2010. Under this program, the project is receiving funding of 5.8 million euros over nine years.

Keywords: Internet of things Connected objects Fun project team IoT-Lab FIT Sensor networks Internet of tomorrow Internet of the future