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At its inception, the Internet of Things (IoT) was predicted to connect trillions of inexpensive smart devices to the Internet in mere decades, embedding paradigm-shifting utility, communication, and convenience into everyday things. Since then, a number of connected speakers, thermostats, doorbells, lights, and wearables have entered the market and our homes, but devices and sensors further constrained by processing power, memory, energy, and networking capabilities struggle to find their way to market. This is due, in part, to the prevailing model in industry of requiring a different application-layer gateway — often in the form of a device-specific router box or smartphone app — to link each unique IoT device to the Internet and allow users to interact with it. Unfortunately, this siloed approach cannot sustain the true scale, density, and capability of the IoT vision.

To break free from such siloed gateway standards which restrict scalability, affordability, and accessibility for constrained IoT devices, we propose a set of application-agnostic approaches to connectivity and interaction. For connectivity, we design a general-purpose network architecture consisting of ubiquitous short-range gateways that openly facilitate data transport for constrained devices to the Internet. By simplifying the gateway to its most essential parts, communications and processing, we can implement the architecture on inexpensive off-the-shelf system-on-chips and on existing smartphone infrastructure. These static and mobile approaches provide coverage for both reliable data throughput scenarios and ephemeral connectivity needs. For interaction, we design a browsing architecture that provides a seamless, scalable approach to discovering and interacting with nearby Things. The system takes advantage of multiple network patterns and modern web technologies to automatically detect devices and supply users with rich device interfaces that can enable interaction directly over local networking protocols. We implement and deploy a mobile-based browsing platform to facilitate this and provide tools for device developers. We further explore techniques for more physically-tied interaction, including extension to mixed reality.

The proposed approach to IoT connectivity and interaction opens up exciting possibilities for the future of the Internet of Things. By breaking down the barriers imposed by siloed gateway standards and introducing a set of approaches that form a general-purpose alternative, this work paves the way for the creation of more innovative and versatile IoT devices and interfaces. The design principles presented provide a simple, yet dynamic framework for enabling Internet connectivity for IoT devices, and for users to interact with them in a more intuitive and seamless way. These architectures represent significant steps forward in realizing the full potential of the Internet of Things, making it more accessible to everyone, and further advancing the development of the smart and connected world of the future.

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