The University of Southampton

Engineers and scientists launch new research centre to confront challenges of widespread connected devices

Published: 17 July 2018
Postgraduate research student, Elena Woo Lai Leng presenting research on hardware security

Researchers in Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton are increasing collaborative research for a connected technological future through a new Centre for Internet of Things and Pervasive Systems.

Over 70 experts from across academia and industry explored the latest research in the field and discussed security challenges at the Centre’s launch event in early July.

Scientists anticipate that there will be tens of billions of connected devices - or ‘things’ - by 2020, forming an Internet of Things (IoT). These devices will be widespread, instrumenting and connecting people, their homes and their vehicles, as well as their cities and environments.

“While IoT has seen tremendous hype and growth in recent years, many challenges still need to be overcome if we are to realise the sheer scale of such a vision,” says Head of Centre Dr Geoff Merrett. “Solving these challenges requires contribution across hardware and software, academia and industry, and underpinning technologies and application developers.”

Within ECS, Southampton has established a significant breadth of research interests in IoT and Pervasive Systems, cutting across electronics and computing and the full IoT system stack. This includes both underpinning technologies: from new sensor, transistor and memory devices to algorithms for machine learning and data analytics, and applications and deployments: from earth science and agricultural management to smarter cities, homes and healthcare.

“The Centre provides a unique opportunity to create critical mass in this evolution of computing, and improve the impact and visibility of the ground-breaking research in IoT that is being undertaken in ECS,” Geoff explains. “It will also enable us to strengthen the community to increase collaborative and multidisciplinary research, and also to engage with our student body around this exciting field. Our launch event was a great start to these activities, and it was great to see the quality of talks and level of engagement from both academia and industry.”

Technical presentations at the launch event on Highfield Campus included ECS research on the detection of hardware intrusions, machine learning for secure smart traffic systems and the University’s GCHQ/EPSRC Academic Centre of Excellence for Cyber Security Research.

A number of the industry speakers posed provocative and motivational viewpoints on IoT security, from the significance and severity of the open challenges that still need to be overcome, through to considering the appropriate level of security needed for individual application domains and deployments.

The Centre will confront three key objectives in the coming years: connecting and promoting the University’s research community, increasing wider collaborative research into IoT and pervasive systems, and educating students through events, new modules and educational programmes.

Anyone interested in finding out about future events and opportunities for collaboration are invited to register an interest with the Centre.

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