home networks are a bit of a mystery when end-users wish to know what
is `happening on the inside'. This project aims to explore the practicality of
leveraging 3D online game technology and/or HTML5/WebGL/WebSockets technologies to
provide a more intuitive, qualitative `view' into the state of home
networks. Our goal is for end-users to easily observe and adjust the
dynamic state of their home network using common laptops, tablets or
similar hand held computing devices (such as smartphones).
Prototypes for OpenWRT
The project's original aim was to target sub-$100 consumer gateway
boxes running an embedded OS
(such as OpenWRT/Linux or FreeBSD), and explore the creation of 3D
imagery that represents network state in a meaningful manner. In late
2013 and 2014 our prototyping has focused on OpenWRT -- click here
for a page containing screenshots, documentation, usable pre-compiled
demo images, source code for building homenet3D into your own OpenWRT
Our premise is that a qualitative, non-technical view of the home
network's current state may be created through the use of suitably
animated & designed objects in a virtual 3D environment.
Furthermore, that network configuration changes might be effected
through an end-user's interaction with objects inside the virtual world.
The homenet3d project originally had three aspects:
- Identify a set of plausibly useful network states and
associated 3D visual representations. Identify which protocols can (or
should) be used to collect network state.
- Address the technical challenges of embedding Figure 1's environment server inside a
typical consumer gateway
- Evaluate the performance trade-offs for both the
environment server and clients of implementing Figure 1 with L3DGEWorld
or HTML5/WebGL/WebSockets (cf. W3bworld).
Network state may not reside solely in the home gateway, particularly
if the home network is built from discrete components. We will explore
the degree to which the environment server can retrieve network state
using existing protocols (such as monitoring broadcast UPnP, DHCP and
similar service discovery traffic, etc).
We will also explore possible ways for end-users to configure or alter
aspects of their home network configuration via the abstractions
presented in the 3D environment.
The performance issues fall into two main categories -- how much
additional home network traffic is generated by server-client
communications when the home network is being monitored, and how much
CPU and RAM is required in both the embedded gateway host and the
end-user's client(s). We expect to observe and characterise distinct
differences between using L3DGEWorld (requiring a custom dedicated
server compiled for OpenWRT, and custom code for each client) or a
browser-based HTML5/WebGL/WebSockets approach.
- Grenville Armitage (Project lead)
- Dominic Allan (Main developer)
- Djuro Mirkovic (Research Assistant)
This project has been made possible in
part by a gift from The
Cisco University Research Program Fund, a corporate advised
fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, for a project titled
"Low cost home network monitoring using “3D virtual environments".