Firefox OS Reinvented for the Internet of Things

Last December, Mozilla gave up on Firefox OS for mobile business use — it just wasn’t being adopted. But Mozilla hasn’t given up on the idea of the operating system. Instead, it has pivoted to become a network for the Internet of Things (IoT).

The Mozilla blog stated that the company is now going to focus on a gated innovation process for the OS. That means emulating how a startup works and incorporating the best practices of that culture into product innovation at Mozilla. Specifically, it plans on involving its own staff in the process, which resembles the Lean Canvas model.

“We are aligning ourselves with users when it comes to simplicity, ease of use and engaging experiences, while ensuring everything is built with the Mozilla values of openness, transparency, privacy and user control at the core,” Mozilla said on its blog.

The Firefox OS Projects

The first project Mozilla has is Link, which aims to be a personal user agent for the smart home. Instead of entrusting data to a third party, the company is aiming for a Link agent that understands personal preferences for interacting with IoT devices in the home. Mozilla wants this to be done conveniently and securely but completely under personal control.

The second project is SensorWeb. According to Mozilla, this is a blueprint to enable many hyperlocal uses cases and ensure everyone gets to access data about living environments. In the future, this is the structure that could allow you to figure out if the washing machines at your local laundromat are available.

Third is the Smart Home project, which is described as “a middle ground between ‘in a box’ solutions like Apple Homekit and DIY solutions like Raspberry Pi. ” Mozilla admits that it doesn’t know if consumers want something that fills in the gap between the two, but it’s still taking early action on the project.

Finally, there’s Project Vaani. This is an IoT enabler package for developers, device-makers and users who want to add a voice interface to their devices in a flexible and customizable way. It is similar to Amazon’s Alexa.

Mozilla’s Pivot

Mozilla is trying to use a technology base it has already developed to solve problems. This is a risky move since it doesn’t know if the visions it has will align with the marketplace, as it freely admits with the Smart Home project.

TechCrunch noted that it is “happy to see the group trying to see what mileage may be left in Firefox OS before giving it up for good.” An attempt to develop a way to use the IoT under a nonproprietary umbrella may be just what a developer community wants to see.

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Larry Loeb

Principal, PBC Enterprises

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other...