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We expect an evolution in the software platforms powering Internet of Things devices that can be compared, to some extent, to the recent evolution of software platforms powering smartphones.
In a few years time, software platforms powering smart handheld devices has speed-evolved from a state where dozens of closed-source, slow progress, proprietary solutions where used, to a state where a couple of major players have imposed new de facto standards in terms of software platform openness, interoperability, and automatic updating. On the bright side, this has led to much quicker paced progress, and to the development of billions of new applications built on top of these platforms, which interact in innovative ways with one another and with the cloud. At this point, let's make two remarks about the dark side of this evolution. First, while companies pushing iOS and Android use such software platforms as more tools to achieve profit-oriented goals (e.g., accumulating and monetizing personalized information), RIOT is developed and maintained by a non-profit, open source community of developers organized around principles that are mainly inspired by the Linux community or the IETF community. Second, while the true level of openness of iOS or Android is debatable, RIOT aims instead at a Linux-like openness.
That said, we expect a revolution in the software platforms powering Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and we expect this revolution to be as game-changing as the aforementioned evolution of the software platforms powering smart handheld devices (retaining only its bright side, hopefully). It is yet unclear which IoT software platforms will emerge as dominant -- RIOT is a contender. It is however quite likely that new standards will be set in the near future, in terms of IoT software platform openness, API, automated software updates and other characteristics that are necessary to enable a modern, large scale, secure ecosystem. Such an IoT software evolution will quite likely fuel a new world of distributed applications developed by a large variety of actors, on top of the dominant open software platform(s). These applications will leverage both spontaneous wireless networks, the cloud and the denser, interconnected environment of heterogeneous devices that we will find ourselves in.
Our vision is the emergence of an entirely new reality in which our interface to the Internet will no longer be predominantly a screen, but rather the objects of the cyber-physical system embodied by the Internet of Things itself. RIOT is an open source operating system that aims to power IoT devices in this new reality. RIOT aims to provide a powerful, but very low memory footprint software platform, that enables any programmer to develop applications on typical IoT devices with zero learning curve (assuming prior experience with POSIX and Linux for instance). RIOT aims for shortened development life-cycles, using standard languages, and well-known debugging tools. RIOT implements a micro-kernel architecture that provides built-in robustness, real-time capabilities and energy efficiency -- future-proof properties, required by many IoT applications to come.
In this context RIOT aims to power a modern, large scale, evolutive, and secure cyber-physical ecosystem, comprising of heterogeneous IoT devices, distributed processes and applications, that can seamlessly interconnect with one another and with the cloud, leveraging standard network stacks (including IPv6 interoperability) available in RIOT.