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Bristol researcher instrumental to the success of IoT applications

Dr George Oikonomou, Research Associate in Security for the Internet of Things

Press release issued: 1 July 2014

The Internet of Things (IoT), a network of interconnected internet-enabled gadgets, could change the way people live in the future. A University of Bristol researcher is instrumental to the success of Contiki, an open source operating system for the IoT.

Contiki, which connects tiny low-cost, low-power microcontrollers to the internet, has been well-known to the IoT community for a long time.   However, it has gained greater visibility following demonstrations of Contiki-powered products at the largest event in the consumer electronics industry, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2014), earlier this year. 

Dr George Oikonomou, Research Associate from the University’s Faculty of Engineering and a member of the Cryptography Group is a core member of the seven-person team that maintains the Contiki project.

Together Contiki’s maintainers set the project’s long-term goals, develop and shape its architecture and review and provide feedback for contributions made by the project’s community.

Dr Oikonomou, Research Associate in Security for the Internet of Things, explained: “I have been using Contiki since 2010 and I have been a maintainer since January 2012. I like to think of it as the operating system for internet-connected tiny gadgets. It is free, it is really small and it provides mature support for several IoT-related protocols and internet specifications.

“Contiki has an open architecture, it incorporates reference implementations for key Internet standards, it has a very wide user base and it is constantly and thoroughly tested. For these reasons, by adopting it, start-up companies have an excellent opportunity to reduce time to market for their ideas while maintaining a high quality for their IoT solutions and products.

“Contiki is also a very strong tool for academic research. It makes rapid prototyping of our research ideas very easy. It allows us to test, validate and evaluate them in a time-efficient fashion. It enables us to make the transition from simulated environments to real hardware test-beds with minimal effort. Most importantly, our students love working with it.”

Dr Adam Dunkels, inventor of Contiki and CEO of Thingsquare, said: “George is one of the core members of the Contiki team.  He has been a catalyst to Contiki’s recent success through both his excellent technical contributions and his strategic decision making for the project.”

Dr Theo Tryfonas, Senior Lecturer in Systems Engineering and an expert in Smart Cities, added: “The Internet of Things will catalyse a host of applications with unprecedented impact on our way of life in modern cities. From energy use reduction, more efficient transport planning and real-time built environment monitoring to boosting the entrepreneurial creativity of entire regions, the IoT offers the test bed for the development of cutting-edge ideas. We are delighted to support the Contiki initiative, especially as the University has recently established a relevant research initiative in Future Cities.”

Other innovative services underpinned by the IoT include sustainable urban planning, healthcare, emergency response, smart homes, waste management, improved quality of life, reduced energy footprint and increased productivity.

Further information

Last month [3 June 2014], WIRED magazine published an article about Contiki entitled Out in the Open: The Little-Known Open Source OS That Rules the Internet of Things.

The University of Bristol’s initiative in Future Cities is one of the research themes of the University’s Cabot Institute.

About the Cabot Institute

The Cabot Institute carries out fundamental and responsive research on risks and uncertainties in a changing environment.   It drives new research in the interconnected areas of climate change, natural hazards, water and food security, low carbon energy, and future cities.  Its research fuses rigorous statistical and numerical modelling with a deep understanding of social, environmental and engineered systems – past, present and future. It seeks to engage wider society by listening to, exploring with, and challenging its stakeholders to develop a shared response to 21st Century challenges.

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