Silk, the IoT platform the web needs

Silk Labs Dev Desk Hero Image

 

There’s probably something that made me turn down many job offers even though being young and in need for experience (and money) through work. All of that was because by principle I can’t force my hands down a keyboard to work on something that I don’t believe in.

 

This isn’t a sales pitch where I try to sell you a product because I work for its company. Actually my name is Ahmed Nefzaoui and I work as a community manager and a technical evangelist at Silk Labs, led by Dr. Andreas Gal — former Mozilla CTO.

 

Over the past years and since 2012 I have been (and still am) heavily involved with the Mozilla project, people tend to have different opinions on the mission of our Mozilla community, for me the reason I first joined was because I only have just learned about Firefox OS’ existence. Back then it was called Boot 2 Gecko, or B2G. And the reason I liked it was the idea that the web can do much more than just showing us pages on the Internets and browsing them like plain documents, and that finally people who don’t have the Java knowledge or the equipments to make iOS apps can just open up a text editor and start coding in HTML5. That project was trying to prove that the web can be as well a base operating system and build a whole open ecosystem around it. Years later it was discontinued, but no need to go into details, that’s a story for another day (or probably for a previous day if you’ve read my past blog post).

 

The same brilliant and top of the line minds, coming from places like Facebook, Mozilla, Qualcomm, Kyocera, GE, Microsoft, Yahoo, and HTC have gathered around again and thought that the web can indeed prove solid in the Internet of Things area.

They started in a garage-like room that looked almost like a lab, and from there was born “Silk Labs” and the Silk platform.

 

But why?

Silk, the platform that we built at Silk Labs, can be programmed using the web, more specifically using the power of JavaScript. Science fiction, right? Nope. It is as real as do I. We dreamed and wanted to give *everyone* the opportunity to build the future, not only those C++ gurus! *waves at the C++ gurus*

 

So what is Silk?

Silk is an IoT platform based on Android’s brains (aka the kernels). This means it can be installed on Android devices easily! And even more than that: it is already ported to two devices that if you have one of them you can start using Silk right away. If you don’t, we also prepared an emulator for you that — as its name indicates — emulates the capabilities of Silk on device, right on your computer.

We hope with the help of the community we can port Silk to a wide variety of devices, meanwhile both the Nexus 4 and the Xiaomi Redmi note 3 can have Silk installed on them.

 

For the more technical details, see the documentations we provided. But here’s a glimpse of what is Silk in plain English:

Silk is a free (as in free beer) firmware for a number of smartphones based on the open-source Android operating system with a nodejs layer on top of it that makes it possible to write programs and get access to hardware aspects using only simple JavaScript. We offer a wide range of APIs that make developing for the Internet of Things world using web technologies a present reality.

Silk is driven by a mission: the web can be the platform to build the most secure secure and reliable future, and give its users back magical experiences.

Did I also mention how much we believe in that no product is a good product if it doesn’t let its community of developers and users see what is behind the curtains of the code! That’s why key components of Silk are open sourced! We will open source a lot of our code. But we will also have a lot of components that we’re not quite ready to get out, at least until they nurture and we feel the world could benefit from them. If you find a bug though let us know, totally!

 

Let me know what do you think? And if you like Silk and its mission (you probably have things you already want to do with Silk) and are interested in joining our community let’s talk, hit me on nefzaoui @ silklabs . com and let’s have a chat 🙂

In the meantime: our community forums for sharing your creations, your questions and all sorts of feedback: community.silklabs.com

And the source code, SDK, APIs, Nightly builds and documentation are in: github.com/silklabs/silk


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