Mozilla to concentrate on four IoT projects

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 3, 2016

Mozilla revealed yesterday four Internet of Things (IoT) projects that it plans to concentrate on after stopping any further development of Firefox OS for smartphones.

Firefox OS for smartphone was an ambitious project for Mozilla, considering that it had to compete in an area where heavyweights such as Google, Apple and Microsoft dominate the field.

Even though Mozilla managed to get some telecom partners onboard, it was too little too late, and this resulted in the decision to stop Firefox OS for smartphones and concentrate instead on IoT.

Mozilla will compete with powerful companies such as Google, Amazon, IBM, Cisco or Microsoft, but the main advantage here is that these companies have not saturated the market yet.

Mozilla IoT projects

Mozilla will concentrate initially on four Internet of Things projects. These projects have a clear focus on user rights and privacy, something that the majority of companies in the field don't seem to focus on for the most part.

They are:

Project Link (formerly known as Foxlink)

A personal user agent that is under the full control of the user. Basically, it helps you interact with your connected devices and may automate certain tasks for you.

Project Link aims to be your own, personal user agent for the smart home, creating a web of things that is completely yours. Instead of entrusting your data to a third party, your Link agent understands your preferences for how you want to interact with the world of devices in your home, and can even automate your connected world for you. All of this still done conveniently and securely, but completely under your control.

Project SensorWeb

Launched as a pilot project to crowdsource the PM2.5 air pollution sensor network. Basically, it attempts to make certain kinds of local data such as the water or air quality, or the wait time in a favorite restaurant, available openly.

SensorWeb wants to advance Mozilla’s mission to promote the open web when it evolves to the physical world. It aims to find the easiest path from sensors to open data so contributors can collaboratively use sensors to get great detail of understanding their living environment.

Project Smart Home

The main idea of Smart Home is to go beyond "in a box" solutions, and to improve the accessibility of "do it yourself" solutions. Basically, something that sits in between, affordable hardware that is easy to set up and adjust according to personal needs.

Project Smart Home offers a middle ground between "in a box" solutions like Apple Homekit and DIY solutions like Raspberry Pi. Combining modular, affordable hardware with easy-to-use rules, Smart Home empowers people to solve unique everyday problems in new and creative ways.

Project Vaani

Mozilla wants to create an open voice interface that developers, device makers and end users can utilize.

Vaani aims to bring a voice to the Internet of Things (IoT) using open, Mozilla-backed technologies. We believe a voice interface is the most natural way to interact with connected devices, but currently, there are no open solutions available at scale. With Vaani, we plan to offer an "IoT enabler package" to developers, device makers, and end users who want to add a voice interface to their devices in a flexible and customizable way, while avoiding the need to “lock-in” with one of the major commercial players.

What's your take on these projects? Good, bad, waste of money and resources?

Mozilla to concentrate on four IoT projects
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Mozilla to concentrate on four IoT projects
Mozilla revealed that it will concentrate on four Internet of Things projects: Project Link, Project Sensor Web, Project Smart Home, and Project Vaani.
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  1. Valrobex said on March 4, 2016 at 3:41 am

    Once again, it appears that Mozilla is “cloning” Google. Google has the resources to experiment in new markets. The key word is “experiment.” If it fails, “Oh well…” there’s plenty more money and resources where that came from. Mozilla does not have the resources of Google.

    It appears that Mozilla has lost focus on what it once excelled at, that being Firefox. I’m not against expanding into new markets but in this instance it appears that Mozilla is “fleeing” from Firefox rather than building upon Firefox’s success. Once that is achieved then Mozilla can expand into new ventures. (Success does not mean building a Chrome clone…that is the definition of failure.)

    It has been my experience that it is better to do one thing well than to do many things half-assed. To quote Ben Franklin, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” I do not have access to Mozilla’s plans but I do have extensive business experience and it appears that Mozilla has lost its way.

    1. Pants said on March 4, 2016 at 4:37 am

      Nothing do with cloning google. Hundreds of companies are looking into this. And Mozilla is not some little startup. I do agree, personally, that they have lost their way with FF though – look at how long the bullshittery over e10s has gone on. And the failed what-I-call-waste-of-time small useless stuff no one wanted. There is also a case to made for diversity – a company shouldn’t be one product (that said the Firefox OS was a bit of a debacle).

      Unless I’m missing something here, (and I am no expert AT ALL on where IoT is going exactly), I beg to differ. I know Samsuny or Sony want to nail the home market with Smart Hubs, and Google want the same (and they grabbed Nest back in the day), and HP want in, and Amazon I think. I’m not entirely sure what Mozilla want to actually build, but Mozilla is in the business of sending and receiving data, using protocols, securely if possible etc etc etc. They have just as much experience in all of this as google, opera, safari and others (certainly better than most current producers who just can’t get it right). Today’s browsers are extremely complicated, and are expected to do almost anything – handle extensions, receive push, deal with encryption (and god only knows if anything needs encryption handling done right it’s the IoT), play media, upload, take voice commands, handle audio, etc etc etc. WTF do think the IoT will do – use carrier pidgeons? :) I would say that any major browser would be an excellent start to build a dedicated front end for IoT purposes. Imagine a front end that handles the 75 devices in your house, with alerts for locks, alarms, cams+motion, incoming calls, battery reserves in your smart eco-house, etc etc etc. I’d rather Mozilla were involved, as I think they have more integrity when it comes to privacy. However, I see a fragmented market coming where your Sony TV refuses to work with the Google Hub, and the iToilet won’t flush if you don’t have at least one iPad. This is why the more players, the better – so protocols can be enforced and everything plays nice. Its a huge emerging market and Mozilla are in a very good place to at least investigate it.

  2. Earl said on March 4, 2016 at 12:38 am

    Something from Mozilla “under the full control of the user” …makes me laugh. What? …no signing? no begging Mozilla to let you use it? no control freaks looking over your shoulder, telling you what you want, what’s “good for you”?

    Really, who’s going to trust Mozilla to do anything again that’s “user-focused”.

    1. gh said on March 4, 2016 at 7:45 pm

      “partners” will trust them. Partnering with device OEMs and/or PaaS providers seems to be mozilla’s roadmap

  3. gh said on March 3, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    “Mozilla will concentrate initially…”

    From monitoring the moz wiki, I’ve noticed additional “focus” items
    The prospect of their intended (pipedreamed) “Mozilla Medical Data Center” seems more remarkable than SensorWeb (and its initial “air pollution monitoring” project) mentioned in the moz blog post. Presumably it’s not mentioned because moz isn’t ready to “spin” the “user story” regarding why we’re supposed to believe that entrusting them (a central moz repository) with our cumulative medical data would be a Good Idea.

  4. Nebulus said on March 3, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    I think it is a waste of time and resources. I don’t think that IoT has any future (despite the fact that a huge amount of money is spent/invested in IoT), and that Mozilla placed a bet on the wrong horse.

    1. Pants said on March 3, 2016 at 7:04 pm

      “I don’t think that IoT has any future” … really?

      So “smart”/chipped electronics (heating-thermostats/lights/blinds/door bells/surveillance/watering-reticulation systems/watches/phones/tablets/netbooks/laptops/ebook readers/sound systems/chromecasts-rokus-etc/drones/garage door openers/security-locks/fitness trackers/”smart” tvs/payment transactions/gps-navigation systems/and about a thousand other items have no future. I guess the companies throwing huge resources into developing protocols and home smart hubs etc are wasting their time then (considering these companies all want to track you for money, eg Sony/Samsung, Google, then I for one welcome our dark insect Mozilla overlords).

      Well done Nebbs, you win the internet for “Idiot Comment of the Day” :)

      1. Pants said on March 4, 2016 at 10:19 pm

        @Nebbs .. OK, I take it back, no winning the internet for you : ) I agree with what you’re saying re 3rd parties etc. I just don’t necessarily equate “internet” as being in the cloud/third parties – if it can connect to the internet/network then its an IoT. The only reason that companies want that is data access (and a selling point as data backup/ease of migration). And its a problem (how many people block their smart tv and just use a roku/chromecast?). I was checking out surveillance cameras recently … so many lacked the ability to bypass the cloud, and started at $x per month/year to use their services. I would rather roll my own ftp server etc.

        So sorry Nebbs, I’ll just take that there “internet” back from you. Here, have a lolly instead.

      2. Nebulus said on March 3, 2016 at 11:49 pm

        You listed a lot of devices that might have their usefulness, I’m not going to deny that. Even more, I do think that smart electronics do have a future. What I don’t think that has any future is the “Internet” part of the “Internet of Things”. You might need to connect to a smart device to control it, but there is no need for that device to connect to a Google server, for instance – that only helps Google track you, and it doesn’t help you control your devices.

        A real-world example can be found here:
        In other words, a security camera itself is an useful device, but the way it connects to the Internet that is described in the article serves no purpose for its user.

  5. Owl said on March 3, 2016 at 10:41 am

    I agree. This sounds like a Good Thing to me.

  6. Marc Lijour said on March 3, 2016 at 9:46 am

    It’s a great thing since Mozilla focuses on users, it highly differentiates from cloud vendors betting on the consumer-as-the-product. A byproduct of a privacy by design approach should be more security. IoT is a growing market, so Mozilla may be able to capture something of the $19T Cisco sees in this market for the next 10 years.

    There is a great fit with Savoir-faire Linux’s communication platform Ring: .

  7. Dan said on March 3, 2016 at 8:55 am

    I thought Mozilla was in the brink of financial collapse, unable to further fund development of Thunderbird, and removing core features from Firefox because they can’t afford to pay developers for upkeep (I thought Mozilla uses volunteer labor?). Yet they have the largess to waste their meager budget for IoT projects…


    1. Maelish said on March 3, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      So they can chase red herrings like these but can’t keep up Thunderbird? These jokers are managing things as bad as the federal government!

    2. Joker said on March 3, 2016 at 11:01 am

      “I thought Mozilla uses volunteer labor?”
      At one one point Mozilla had 600 employees.

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