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Interspatial OS

(2018 - )

Digital infrastructure in modern urban environments is currently very Internet-centric, and involves transmitting data to physically remote environments. The cost for this is data insecurity, high response latency and unpredictable reliability of services. I am working on Osmose -- a new OS architecture that inverts the current model by building an operating system designed to securely connect physical spaces with extremely low latency, high bandwidth local-area computation capabilities and service discovery.

In 2018, I was starting to wrap up a multi-year focus on Unikernels, and I went back to look over the state of personal data handling (as I'd finished working on Personal Containers in 2016). Things had regressed fairly dramatically, as central cloud providers and particularly IoT manufacturers were moving heavily towards ubiquitous surveillance and centralised management.

I started with trying to find a different slant on existing architectures for smart buildings. Why couldn't we invert the Internet so that data is pooled in a single physical location by default, with networking being opt-in? Why can't we build all of our ubiquitous computing infrastructure (such as voice and face recognition) so that it runs locally within the building rather than streamed from remote datacentres? There would be gains all around -- latency, energy usage, offline operation -- if we could figure out how to deploy local machine learning services.

I wrote up the initial thoughts behind this in a workshop paper in “An Architecture for Interspatial Communication” . Since then, I've been collaborating with the good folks at Tarides on building out the library infrastructure in MirageOS to setup a prototype set of rooms in Cambridge and Paris that can act as a testbed for our ideas.

The intention behind the Osmose design is to "invert" the architecture of smart cities to be self-contained units by default, and only communicate when required for the purpose of remote interaction. All sensing and storage is conducted locally -- resulting in energy efficiency gains, security by default for sensitive data, and robustness against communications outages affecting critical physical infrastructure. If you're a student and interested in working on this for a Master's or PhD project, do get in touch.

Related publications

An Architecture for Interspatial Communication
Anil Madhavapeddy, KC Sivaramakrishnan, Gemma Gordon and Thomas Gazagnaire.

Related projects

2010 - 2019 Unikernels
2009 - 2015 Personal Containers