The Story: Robots on the internet


Since the birth of the internet DELTA has been exploring the opportunities of this new technology and worked with ‘devices on the internet’.

In the late 1990s DELTA examined how to use web pages for monitoring and remote control of devices – nearly 20 years before ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) became a concept. During a quiet summer period, some enthusiastic employees at DELTA even built a LEGO robot from a LEGO Mindstorms set and mounted a camera onto the robot. The camera could send images wirelessly to a Sun workstation – the multimedia super-computer of that time.

Additionally, a web server was built so that users from all over the world remotely could control the robot while watching still-images captured from the robot’s head  – everything by the means of newly developed ‘Java applets’ (i.e. small software applications that run embedded in web pages).

In order to avoid that the little robot would go berserk in the hallways of DELTA, the movement of the robot was limited to a fixed path through four offices, marked with a strip of black tape on the floor. Mirrors were places strategically along the route of the robot so that the happy internet users could see ‘themselves’ and take ‘selfies’ along the way.

The interactive robot was a big hit and operated the rest of the summer, until DELTA employees at some point became tired of changing batteries and reassemble LEGO bricks that fell off during operation. However, useful learning about interactive web services were collected, and DELTA had put one of the world’s first ‘things’ on the internet and thus got a glimpse of the future.

All in all, DELTA has been involved in several development and R&D projects concerning devices on the internet and has connected everything from trains to measuring equipment to the internet. In addition, DELTA has been a key player in larger industry consortia such as ‘’ and ‘Technical Open Source’.

In the early 2000s DELTA together with TDC established one of the world’s first mobile phone companies for putting devices on the net – a so-called ‘MVNOs’ (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). DELTA developed ‘mobile phones’ for devices and issued its own SIM cards for these ‘phones’. In principle, DELTA created the world’s longest appliance extension cord; via an in-house developed cloud service, users could – on a web page – choose which devices in the field they would connect to – and they could then communicate via a so-called virtual parallel port.

DELTA continues to work with the latest trends and solutions within the field of IoT in many different aspects and is in the process of setting up an IoT TestCenter under Performance Contract 2016-2018.

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