The Object Network

Here's a scenario walk-through showing how you'd interact with the Object Network through devices running the Object Network operating system, Onex.

Imagine that you visited a pet shop and saw a fish tank you liked, but there's a sale coming up and you are hoping for a discount. You have an Onex light at home that can be set to any colour or brightness. So you decide to set things up so that your light turns bright red when the tank's price drops below £150!

You have Onex AR glasses. This is the future, so they look quite normal. Until then, you can do all of this on your other wearable - an Onex smartwatch!

With the AR glasses on, when you look around you see a 3D overlay on the room you're in, highlighting the Onex light and any other devices you have. Alternatively, as you pan your watch around you may either see a small 3D room representation with objects in it, or simply a list of devices ordered by proximity. As you walk around your house, the virtual 3D room or list of near objects you see changes accordingly.

Now this is where you need to know about UIDs and links.

UIDs and the linked-up virtuality

All the things mentioned have their own unique ID or 'UID'. So the Onex light, the fish tank and its price tag and temperature sensors, you - wearing your AR glasses - the room you're in and the rooms you're not in yet, including the shop - each has a UID.

These virtual and physical entities - called 'objects' - link up into a mesh that can span the planet. This mesh is created from those UIDs. When an object refers to another peer object's UID, it's called a 'link' - a bit like a web page URL but for dynamic data.

For example, there are links in both directions between the light and the room it's in - the light knows the UID of the room object where it is located, and the room lists the UIDs of everything that's in it. The shop has the same setup, and there's a link from your home to the shop via council-hosted street objects.

Exploring the physical/digital world

You - your user object - link to what you're looking at, and as that object changes, you immediately see its latest state.

So now, you can either use gestures or a pocket keyboard/pointer device, or buttons on the watch, to indicate that you'd like to walk around in this mesh, this virtual realm; independently of your physical self.

So you walk virtually through the front door to the street - effectively 'jumping' that link from a room in your house to the street object, just like jumping a web link to another web site, only in 3D not 2D. You can then 'walk' on to the pet shop down the road. If you had the pet shop's UID or link, you could have jumped there directly.

Here's how that all looks:

As you move, the links between you and the rooms or other location you're occupying are updated. In the picture above you're shown still on the street, and we're assuming you're happy to be publically linked so others on the street can see your avatar.

And as the world and items you link to update, you see the updates.

Wiring it all up

Notice how different parts of this scenario are being animated on different devices - a 'home hub', the light itself, your AR glasses, council machines, etc.

The Onex hub is a small device which connects to your internet. The virtual room objects in your house are created inside the hub.

Each Onex device runs its own virtual objects - including the light and you yourself via the AR glasses or watch.

The light, your glasses or watch and this hub can all talk to each other by WiFi or a mesh radio that's similar to WiFi, except that it works directly between devices, instead of always going via the hub or router. The local radio can also provide rough indoor location information through signal strength.

The pet shop has a similar set-up, connecting their inventory to their internet. There's various sensors, etc on the tanks, and price tags which can be set and read electronically.

Obviously, you can set permissions for the visibility of your stuff, but essentially any of the shop's devices can talk directly over radio and the internet to any of yours.

All virtual objects can be linked up over these machines and networks and communicate directly, regardless of the device that hosts and runs them; regardless of who made that device.

What do they say when they talk? They update each other on their latest state, if the target object - which may be a user object or any other object - is interested and permitted.

Writing your own money-saving rule

Once in the shop, you look around you and walk around the virtual room to find that fish tank virtual object and its attached price tag object. You 'pick up' a link to the price tag, by 'touching' its virtual object and choosing 'pick up UID' from a list of actions. On the watch you'd pan the 3D image and move towards the price tag, or simply tap through nested lists of links until you find it, then select it and choose 'pick up UID'.

Now, jumping back to your own living room, you look around and see the light. When you physically approach it, it comes closer in the AR view or goes to the top of the list in the watch. Again, you touch it, then select 'see properties'. You see something like this:

There's all the properties that set the light colour plus a link to the room that the light is 'within'.

You select the option to drop in the link to the price tag that you're holding. You can name that link or take the default, which would probably be 'fish tank price tag' or something.

Now, you want to set up that rule. You select 'new rule' and see this:

After some gestures or mini-keyboard taps, you arrive at this:

When the tank's price drops to £120, that new state is sent by local radio to their hub, then directly from their hub to yours, and directly then to the light, triggering the rule and turning the light red.

How that's brilliant

Everything has a UID, so can be picked up and wired up with ease. You can see what's going on.

You didn't depend on centralised or proprietary services or downloaded apps to do this - the price tag and your light talked directly over the internet simply via their UIDs using open protocols.

And you didn't depend on proprietary programming by faceless developers - you wrote the rule yourself, just as you'd write a spreadsheet formula.

It's all visible to you, you have complete control.

Duncan Cragg, 2016

Contact me and/or subscribe to my blog and/or follow me on Twitter.