Visual programming for 'wiring' the Internet of Things


There is a proliferation of devices being developed to form the building blocks of the Internet of Things (IoT), from Internet-connected power sockets and light bulbs to kettles, toasters and washing machines. However, to realise the full potential of the IoT, it will be necessary to allow these devices to interconnect and share data with each other to deliver the functionalities required by end-users. In recent research on end-user programming for the IoT, my colleagues Pierre Akiki, Yijun Yu and myself have proposed the notion of Visual Simple Transformations (ViSiT), that provides a visual programming paradigm for users to wire together IoT devices. The video above shows a demonstration of the ViSiT solution and full details of the approach will appear in an upcoming special issue of the ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (ToCHI).

This work is highlighted in a recent IEEE Software Blog: Empowering Users to Build IoT Software with a Puzzle-like Environment and full details of the paper are provided below:

Abstract: "Empowering end-users to wire Internet of Things (IoT) objects (things and services) together would allow them to more easily conceive and realize interesting IoT solutions. A challenge lies in devising a simple end-user development approach to support the specification of transformations, which can bridge the mismatch in the data being exchanged among IoT objects. To tackle this challenge, we present Visual Simple Transformations (ViSiT) as an approach for end-users to specify such transformations by using a jigsaw puzzle metaphor, which get automatically converted into an underlying executable workflow. ViSiT is explained by presenting meta-models and an architecture that serves as a reference for implementing a system of connected IoT objects. A tool is provided for supporting end-users in visually developing and testing transformations. A tool is also provided for allowing software developers to modify, if they wish, a transformation’s underlying implementation. This work was evaluated from a technical perspective by developing transformations and measuring ViSiT’s efficiency and scalability and by constructing an example application to show ViSiT’s practicality. A study was conducted to evaluate this work from an end-user perspective, and its results showed positive indications of perceived usability, learnability, and the ability to conceive real-life scenarios for ViSiT."

Akiki, Pierre A.; Bandara, Arosha K. and Yu, Yijun (2017). Visual Simple Transformations: Empowering End-Users to Wire Internet of Things Objects. Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (In Press).

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