Google offering research grants for an “Open Web of Things”

Google announced Friday that it will fund research to advance the creation of open standards for the Internet of Things. The “cross-disciplinary expedition” is headed by ‘Net legend Vint Cerf, and will award yearly five- and six-figure grants to academic projects in three areas: human-computer interaction; privacy and security; and systems and protocols.

According to the Request for Proposals, the goal of the Open Web of Things initiative is “to enable effective use and broad adoption of the Internet of Things by making it as easy to discover and interact with connected devices as it is to find and use information on the open web. The resulting open ecosystem should facilitate usability, ensure privacy and security, and above all guarantee interoperability.”

The term “Web of Things” was coined by EVRYTHNG co-founders Vlad Trifa and Dominique Guinard, who described it as the IoT’s “application layer” in an interview with us in 2011. Though Google has adopted the phrase, the grant program’s funding across broad areas of computer science represents more of an umbrella approach to unifying the IoT’s technological ecosystem.

The Open Web of Things is also not to be confused with the experimental Physical Web project, also a Google creation, which reimagines the URL as a fundamental locator for the digital assets associated with physical objects.

By funding pure research in this area, Google is filling a role that the U.S. government has so far mostly failed to play. Both the U.K.’s Technology Strategy Board and the E.U.’s 7th Framework program(view specific grant awards here) have poured the equivalent of tens of millions of dollars into IoT-related research to date.