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TRIBE Research team

inTeRnet BEyond the usual

Team presentation

The TRiBE (inTeRnet BEyond the usual) is a research team of INRIA Saclay – Ile de France, located at the Alain Turing building in the Campus of the Polytechnical School, Palaiseau. TRiBE conviction is that the success of the Internet of Things is rooted in the network designing choices involving its devices and related protocols/services as well as the edge-core network communication loop.

The team is motivated by the fact that the Internet has steadily evolved over the past decades. The edge of this network now consists in a dense deployment of machines ranging from PCs to smartphones, from sensors/actuators to smart appliances, and from smart vehicles to diverse kinds of robots. As a consequence, humans are immersed in a highly connected and ubiquitous cyber-physical context, and as end-users of the network and its numerous services, their satisfaction has become the main focus.

Research themes

In this context, the research contributions of TRiBE aim at dealing with the new requirements and the new scientific and technological challenges brought to the edge of the Internet. Toward this goal, the research of the team will be organized around three research directions:

  • Technologies for accommodating low-end IoT devices:  The IoT is expected to gradually connect billions of low-end devices (e.g. sensors, actuators, etc.) to the Internet, and thereby drastically increase communication without human source or destination. Low-end IoT devices differ starkly from high-end IoT devices in terms of resources such as energy, memory, and computational power. Projections show this divide will not fundamentally change in the future and that IoT should ultimately interconnect a dense population of devices as tiny as dust particles, feeding off ambient power sources (energy harvesting). These characteristics constrain the software and communication protocols running on low-end IoT devices: they are neither able to run a common software platform such as Linux (or its derivatives), nor the standard protocol stack based on TCP/IP. Solutions for low-end IoT devices require thus: (i) optimized communication protocols considering radio technology evolution and devices constrained requirements; (ii) tailored software platforms providing high level programming, modular software updates as well as advanced support for new security and energy concentration features; (iii) unification of technologies for low-end IoT, which is too fragmented at the moment, guaranteeing integration with core or other edge networks. In this context, one of the prominent OS in the current IoT context is RIOT, co-founded in 2013 by members of the team together with German colleagues from Freie Universitaet Berlin and Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW).
  • Technologies for leveraging high-end IoT devices’ advents: High-end IoT devices (e.g. smart handheld devices) are one of the most important instances of the connected devices supporting a noteworthy shift towards mobile Internet access. As our lives become more dependent on pervasive connectivity, our social patterns (as human being in the Internet era) are nowadays being reflected from our real life onto the virtual binary world. This gives birth to two tendencies. From one side, edge networks can now be utilized as mirrors to reflect the inherent human dynamics, their context, and interests thanks to their well-organized recording and almost ubiquitous coverage. From the other side, social norms and structure dictating human behavior (e.g., interactions, mobility, interest, cultural patterns) are now directly influencing the way individuals interact with the network services and demand resources or content. This suggests the integration of the heterogeneity and uncertainty of behaviors in designed networking solutions. For this, useful knowledge allowing the understanding of behaviors and context of users has to be extracted and delivered out of large masses of data. Such knowledge has to be then integrated in current design practices. This brings the idea of a more tactful networking design practice where the network is assigned with the human like capability of observation, interpretation, and reaction to daily life features and entities involving high-end IoT devices.
  • Technologies for edge-core network interaction: The edge is the interface between the IoT devices and the core network: some of the challenges encountered by IoT devices have their continuity at the edge of the network inside the gateway (i.e., interoperability, heterogeneity and mobility support). Besides, the edge should be able to support intermediary functions between devices and the rest of the core (e.g., the cloud). This includes: (i) proxying functionality, facilitating connections between devices and the Internet; (ii) IoT data contextualization, so collection of meaningful IoT data (i.e., right data collected at the right time) can be earlier determined closer to the data source; (iii) intermediary computation through fog or Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) models, where IoT devices can obtain computing, data storage, and communication means with lower latency in a decentralized way; or (iv) security of end-to-end IoT software supply-chain, including remote management and over-the-air updates.

With those three research directions, the team place its efforts in the three main elements composing the ecosystem of IoT devices: (1) the device itself, (2) their usability, and (3) their network context. Such research directions together will contribute to our vision of a Smart, Unified, and Tactful Internet edge skilled for answering application, services, or end-users’ purposes.

The TRiBE research activities are built on an approach combining protocol design, data analytics, and experimental research. It is indeed an ambition of the project to generate a mutually beneficial interaction between protocol/solution design and standardization activities. Members of the team also employ considerable efforts to materialize the team’s scientific contributions through software and hardware platforms (e.g., RIOT software platform and IoT hardware platform).

The TRiBE team fits in the theme “Networks and Telecommunications” of the research field “Networks, Systems and Services, Distributed Computing”.

Keywords: IoT Human behaviour analysis Internet edge Mobile networks Human-aware networking solutions