Dec. 01, 2008

Cross-Platform webinos

The webinos project will define and deliver an Open Source Platform and software components for the Future Internet in the form of web runtime extensions, to enable web applications and services to be used and shared consistently and securely over a broad spectrum of converged and connected devices.

With the mobile Internet catching up to the established World Wide Web, the call to develop a single universal application platform based on web technologies is becoming stronger each moment. More than 20 partners from research and industry, representing the global mobile web, consumer electronics and the automotive industry elite, teamed-up to work on the Secure Web Operating System Application Delivery System – the webinos project. The project coordinator Dr. Stephan Steglich from Fraunhofer FOKUS explains: “webinos marks a new milestone. Our goal is, to establish a secure open source web platform for running applications on and across multiple devices and to bring forward the development of interoperable solutions.”

Figure 1: webinosTV on TV, Tablet and Smartphone

webinos is an open source application platform that allows different devices to work together. These devices range from TV sets, phones, tablets, in-vehicle entertainment systems, desktops and network attached storage units to home automation systems and more. Any network-connected device can be integrated through an abstraction model and become part of the webinos platform.

Device features can be used as services by other connected devices. This means that applications can leverage remote services that otherwise would not be available on the device the application is running on. The underlying communication channel between devices uses end-to-end encryption to make communication secure at all times. Using the built-in policy system, users are in full control and may revoke or grant permission to use webinos services.

The key feature: webinos provides is the simple discovery and secure usage of services on remote devices.

For webinos we have created a wide range of new APIs that expose the power of native platforms whether they be TV, Car or IOT. We embrace existing standards and implement state of the art features in highly portable ways.

For example:

  • webinosTV Control API: The interface provides means to acquire a list of tv sources, channels and their streams
  • webinos payment API: This API provides functionality to provide in-app payment
  • webinos media content API: Provides information about multimedia contents stored in your personal zone's devices

...and many more.

In order to make it easy for the user, all personal devices are connected to a central instance that acts as a hub for these devices, the hub is what we call the Personal Zone Hub (PZH). Each devices connected to the hub is called a Personal Zone Proxy (PZP) – together these devices from the personal zone of devices that each user owns. Personal zones can be connected in order for users to share access to their services. It’s easy to run the PZH in your home or even as cloud platform for big number of users – e.g. we could provide such a cloud solution.

​Figure 2: Personal Zones: bringing your connected devices together

We have created a number of applications that showcase the vast possibilities of this personal concept where user devices are securely connected. To distinguish between these applications we have created topical hubs that focus on various aspects of use cases – imagine running one or more of these hubs at home depending on what the interests are

IoT Hub: We present the use of the IoT dashboard to communicate with sensors from various manufacturers, easily gather and display historical sensor data, and use a rule definition system to trigger activators based on sensor data.

Home media hub: Videos and other home media can be controlled and directed between home media devices using standard, non-proprietary APIs like the webinosTV, the Media Content and the payment application.

Car hub: A webinos enabled dashboard presenting car information from a simulated drive.

Health hub: Monitoring personal health data is increasingly important both to health conscious individuals and to alleviate pressure on national health services. webinos can provide the tools to collect data from various wearable sensors in a unified, secure and device-independent way.

Fraunhofer FOKUS as the project coordinator of webinos specified and implemented key aspects of architecture and platform. We have contributed a great many of APIs and verified our approach by successfully writing applications for the platform. We took part in creating the Android port, which fit our expertise on all things Android, e.g. with the Media Web Runtime. On the application front we developed webinosTV – using technologies like WebRTC and DASH, webinosTV combines all things multimedia into a single fascination package for the user, see Figure 1. The exciting WebRTC technology links Web clients enabling audio, video and data communication but requires in most cases an infrastructure for the peer discovery and signaling. The decentralized webinos platform complements here offering its scalable design.

Building on our experience we continue to advance the platform to changes on the technology market as well as use the technology for our other projects with similar goals where applicable – for example in our multiscreen framework FAMIUM.

FAMIUM provides a number of the same APIs, a similar runtime environment and leverages on webinos technology to make it easy to write multiscreen applications.

Let’s cooperate!

If you are interested in using and extending webinos – we provide help porting webinos to your devices, customizing the platform to your needs, and develop applications on top of it. We can provide technology or application prototypes, near-product showcases and even technological studies.