Pachube is Just One Way That Open Source and Sensing Are Converging
ReadWriteWeb has an interesting series of posts going on this week on Pachube, an open source software platform that allows developers to connect sensor data to the web. The series analyzes some of the applications that are being built with Pachube, analyzes Pachube's business model and characterizes it as part of an important trend called "The Internet of Things."
Of course, the idea that physical objects--ranging from plants that can communicate online that they need water to home lighting systems--will eventually be connected to the Internet is not new. Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Net has been saying so for years, in addition to many futurists. Sensors have been making it into our cars, our homes and elsewhere for years. What role does open source play in their future?
Pachube bills itself as a way to "store, share & discover realtime sensor, energy and environment data from objects, devices and buildings around the world." You can find applications for it here, including one called Pachube viewer that lets you view data captured by sensors on an Android phone. There is also a Pachube blog, and ReadWriteWeb has an interview with Usman Haque, Pachube's founder, who discusses it as a commercial open source project.
In addition to software focused on sensing technology, such as Pachube, the open source community is also involved with the many social, privacy and government issues surrounding it. We've covered the Open Source Sensing initiative before. The organization's call to action reads like this: "Pervasive sensing is arriving soon — we have a short window of opportunity for guiding this technology to protect both our security and our privacy."
Open Source Sensing was founded by members of The Foresight Institute, which boosts and oversees applications for sensors in the field of nanotechnology and elsewhere. You can read an overview document from the group here. (PDF)
As ReadWriteWeb points out in its series on Pachube, many large companies have proprietary sensor-focused initiatives underway, including IBM, Microsoft and Nokia. From the perspectives of both regulating policies related to sensors and releasing innovative software for use with them, there is definitely room for community involvement and open source software.