Standardization of virtual objects

Standardization of virtual objects

Jordán Pascual Espada (Universidad de Oviedo, Spain), Oscar Sanjuán Martínez (Universidad de Oviedo, Spain), B. Cristina Pelayo García-Bustelo (University of Oviedo, Spain), Juan Manuel Cueva Lovelle (University of Oviedo, Spain) and Patricia Ordóñez de Pablos (Universidad de Oviedo, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-921-7.ch002


This chapter proposes architecture to unify the development and use of virtual objects. As technology advances more and more “objects” began to appear in digital format, examples include: books, event tickets, airline tickets, agendas, etc electronic purses. These digital objects do not follow a standard format or recommendations since there are no mechanism that allows for treating them in a general way, storing and sharing or being processed by other applications that do not know their format. Based on the problems identified in this document, a proposal is detailed in search for a single structure and for the construction of any virtual object.
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The main idea in the Internet of Things is that any “thing” or object, conveniently tagged, may be able to communicate with other objects equally tagged through internet or any other protocols. These objects which are part of the net may contain small chips or embedded systems, depending on their purpose (Kranz, 2010). They may range from home equipment to industrial items or even electrodomestic, cars or even supermarket food. Anything can be tagged to be part of the Internet of things (Kortuem, 2010; Lu, 2008).

Possibilities of the Internet of things to make people’s life easier and to automatize many of our current tasks are huge, for instance, it is possible that the fridge may send an email to our mobile phone if it runs out of milk, we can monitor hospitalized patients by internet... there are lots of practical applications and all of them are seen with a common basis: “things” are communicating with “things” or persons. (Global 2008)

Parallel to the development of technology, more and more objects called “things” which are merely physical start to be seen also in digital format. Examples of them can be seen in: books, maps, e-tickets for gigs, plane tickets, agendas, contact cards, agendas, electronic purses etc.

When we observe the behavior of these digital objects we see there is no standard format or any recommendation to normalize their usage. There is no mechanism by which we can treat them in a general way, store them, share them or process them with other applications which may not know their format.

Problems coming out of this lack of standard format are the following:

  • Difficulties for decode: devices with no specific applications to decode the virtual object will not be able to process it. Let’s take as an example my Mobile phone; if I transfer a contact card to another user, the Mobile intended to receive it won’t be able to decode the incoming information. This handicap leads to the need of installing many applications in case we want to operate with different virtual objects. It makes it harder for a company or developer to place in the market their own virtual object, since nobody would be able to decode it without the suitable software.

  • Lack of Communications: Ideally, the objects linked to the Internet of things to interact among themselves and with other applications to automate tasks and increase efficiency (Spiess, 2009). Since there is no standard format way to get actions or services from a giving virtual object, it is very difficult to interact with another application. Let`s illustrate it with a cinema ticket which is basically related to being a mere number code with stored information in a company database. The ticket is decoded by a web application and a specific machine. By focusing on this, it is very complicated for a virtual object to directly communicate with other applications or to transfer the ticket to other user.

Internet of things follows the aim of making the Communication between things possible, so things can communicate by themselves with other things and users. A physical thing may have a catalog of actions which is used to communicate, for instance a sensor connected to the net offering service to get position and temperature. The focus of something connected to a web which has a catalog of actions and is able to communicate by itself with other users is crashing frontally against the focusing of virtual objects, which do not exist themselves, independently, as entities, but only to form part of an application which interprets them.

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