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Lab of Things—the new wave of research-device platforms

July 16, 2013 | By Microsoft blog editor

Lab of ThingsAre you a researcher who spends a lot of time deploying field studies in homes and other buildings where human activity takes place—studies that often involve both custom-built and off-the-shelf sensors and devices? Do you face challenges in combining these varying devices together in one experiment? Do you collect data from dozens to hundreds of experiment sites? Do your experiments require frequent updating with fixes or new extensions? And finally, do you wish you could share your infrastructure and subjects with others, so that you can conduct collaborative experiments? The Lab of Things (LoT) provides the infrastructure, software, and services that make all of these things possible.
So what is the LoT? It is a research-device platform based on Microsoft Research’s HomeOS system. The LoT allows virtually any type of device to be interconnected to the infrastructure. It boasts an open-driver model that lets you write a driver in the event that your device is not supported. You can also choose to share your new driver with the research community so others can benefit from your work. 

Lab of Things Intro

The LoT also comes with a set of cloud services that support deployment of experiments at scale. One of the services is the LoT monitoring portal, which provides near real-time status of all the sites in your study. The update service allows you to configure your experiments so that you receive all of your field-study data in one convenient location in the cloud. It also facilitates on-the-fly updates to experiments, drivers, and any other component of the infrastructure, without your having to visit the site physically.
Through all of these features, the LoT lets you interconnect devices and scale up your field studies in diverse experiment locations. With the LoT, you will spend a LOT more of your research time and budget where it is meant to be spent: conducting actual experiments, rather than developing software infrastructure.
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Arjmand Samuel, Senior Research Program Manager, Microsoft Research Connections

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