Why We Design a New OS for IoT?

At present, when we want to develop a consumer IoT (Internet of Things) device, we have to build a software team which has five engineers at least due to the complex software stack and protocol stack of IoT computing environment:

  • At least one firmware engineer who writes programs in C/C++ for the IoT device, which generally runs a RTOS or Linux.
  • At least one server engineer who writes programs in Java/PHP/Python for the cloud services.
  • At least one front-end engineer who writes webpages in JavaScript/CSS/HTML5 for webpages.
  • At least two client-end engineers who write apps in Java, Objective C, or Swift for smart phones, which run Android or iOS.

In addition, for some devices which are used for business, we need one or two engineers to write desktop apps in C/C++ for Windows, macOS, or Linux.

Obviously, the development cost of an IoT device is much higher than a traditional embedded device. We need a new operating system to simplify the software and protocol stack of IoT applications, reduce the development cost, and improve the productivity.

Not only that, the popular cloud computing services we can get from AWS, Ali, or Huawei are not dedicated for IoT applications. We have to develop some cloud services by ourselves to implement some features for our IoT devices. Moreover, the security of an IoT service is being seriously challenged.

For example, with the development of IoT technologies, we can now use our own smart phone to remotely control the home air conditioner or view the home camera in real time. We can even use the smart phone to remotely open our home door from the office. However, have you ever thought about the issue: how your smart lock knows that the received door open command is sent by you? Or, conversely, is the real-time monitoring screen that you see on your smart phone generated by your own camera?

The reality is that any cracker who breaks into the cloud can easily control all IoT devices connected to the cloud remotely, including your smart door locks or cameras. The current IoT products, like traditional Internet applications, have not improved much in terms of security. The scenes that we can often see from spy war movies can still be easily performed in reality.

This is because most IoT developers are not security experts, and they often downplay the security challenges of the IoT system or choose a bad solution to implement a security policy.

Some ideas from the blockchain technology may change this. The decentralized design of the blockchain provides another way to enhance the security of IoT. HybridOS will try to utilize the some parts of blockchain technology and the mature and successful practice from the industry to improve the security of IoT.

We see HybridOS as an operating system running on the network. We are committed to freeing IoT developers from various protocol stacks and complex software stacks. At the same time, HybridOS hides the security implementation details in order that the developers can focus on their applications.

Technical Terminologies

  • Device: The IoT device; For HybridOS, the device here refers to a smart device that has direct access to the Internet and with or without a display.
  • Device App: An app runs on a device, with or without GUI.
  • Client: A desktop computer, a smart phone, or a tablet.
  • Client App: An app runs on a client.
  • Node: The IoT node; For HybridOS, the node here refers to a constrained IoT device in a constrained network.

Goals of HybridOS

A specialized software stack for IoT

HybridOS provides a new software stack for IoT applications:

  • A new implementation for common server, such as MQTT, WebSocket, HTTP, CoAP, and streaming servers. HybridOS provides a different architecture for the implementation of the servers: any HybridOS app or service can register and work as a real service provider or a request provider of the servers.

  • A new and universal app framework for IoT devices and client apps. The developers can write device app and client apps for Linux, Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS operating systems by using a set of extended HTML5 tags and CSS 3. On low-end IoT devices, you use C++ as the script language of HVML, while you use JavaScript on high-end IoT devices and/or clients.

Finally, the application programming languages of HybridOS will be reduced to two: JavaScript or C/C++ for apps. As a result, the development cost of an IoT application will be reduced greatly by using HybridOS.

IoT-dedicated cloud computing services and security implementation

HybridOS integrates some cloud computing services which are dedicated to IoT, such as a distributed MQTT server, identity authentication mechanism, and some basic services, such as firmware and app upgrade.

HybridOS will introduce the serverless technology for the IoT cloud computing. In this way, the developer can easily integrate the existed cloud services by writing a simple script in Python.

In the future, HybridOS will try to provide a blockchain-based IoT security service. HybridOS will provide an enhanced MQTT implementation for communication between things and an identity authentication mechanism based on blockchain technology/idea.

Rich connectivities

On the device side, HybridOS integrates a standard peripheral and task management interface based on hBus (an enhanced edition of OpenWRT's uBus), such as networking management, sensor (like GPS and gravity accelerometer) management, and USB interface management. hBus exchanges data among apps and services in JSON, which is friendly for any programming language.

HybridOS will provide a variety of connectivity options for the IoT devices, including 4G/LTE, NB-IoT, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, NFC, RFID, USB, Ethernet, RS232, and so on.

The device-side system of HybridOS is based on the Linux kernel, making full use of the Linux kernel ecosystem, reducing the difficulty of developing various drivers and the difficulty of supporting various protocol stacks, thus reducing development cost.

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