Internet of Things search engine lets you plug into the connected city

A location search engine for sensors and other connected devices is enabling users to access data about the world around them.

Dubbed a “search engine for Internet of Things”, map-based Thingful is currently in Beta, and is designed for use by developers, researchers and the data curious.

“I’m trying to achieve a world of connected objects sharing real-time data,” explained Usman Haque, founder and CEO of Thingful, during a talk about the project at the Open Data Institute Summit 2015 held yesterday in London.

A variety of devices, from weather stations to radiation monitors, have been posting data online for some time – in some case years – but finding this information has proved difficult.

“It’s already here, it’s just hard to find,” said Haque. “Google is not set up to index that type of data.”

Thingful aims to tackle that gap. It doesn’t yet have an api, but it does allow developers to find data sources, follow different sensors through a Watchlist and embed interactive maps known as Thingful views. There’s also an option to view selected data about a mapview, known as Thingful Insights.

Environmental and experimental devices are abundant, but there are also traffic monitors, soil readings and home monitoring data, as well as a smattering of health data.

“We index millions of devices from across the world and from across the data section,” he said.

It’s a strong resource for researchers, journalists and educators, to name a few. For Haque, however, it is also a means of democratising our city, by providing people with greater knowledge about the world around them.

“We can use the Internet of Things to make decisions together, to make sense of our homes and cities together,” he said.

“We’re not just building a search engine for the Internet of Things, we’re trying to balance the discoverability and ownership of IoT data.”

Its creators are working on an api for Thingful so that developers will be able to directly feed data into their projects and applications, however they also want to encourage more people to provide data for the Internet of Things.

“Over the next few months our priority is working with data providers,” said Haque.

Thingful is one of many projects by Umbrellium, a company made up of “architects, designers, tactical urbanists and creative technologists” that develops tools designed to encourage citizen engagement in cities.

Other projects include an AR app for visualising environmental data, an operating system for public spaces and an easy to use prototyping platform for wearables.

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