Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

IBM aims to spur IoT innovation with Foundation service

Iain Morris
October 23, 2014
IBM has released details of a set of digital tools that it says will allow companies to build Internet of Things (IoT) applications in a matter of minutes.

The service should make it possible for a developer to rapidly extend an internet-connected device – such as a sensor or controller – into the cloud, build an application alongside it and then generate real-time insights.

The IoT Foundation service, as it is branded, forms a part of IBM Bluemix, the IT giant’s cloud application platform.

IBM (Armonk, NY, USA) says that cloud connectivity will spur IoT innovation across a broad array of vertical markets.

Asset manufacturers, for instance, would be able to use IoT technologies to provide remote service and monitoring to residential and commercial customers, while oil and gas companies could remotely monitor and provide predictive maintenance to critical equipment.

In the logistics sector, IoT is allow companies to track and monitor the condition of goods in transit.

But IoT is also bringing about benefits in non-industrial sectors, enabling insurance companies to offer pay-as-you-go insurance and city administrators to make infrastructure smarter.

IoT Foundation is already being used to power a boat telematics platform developed by boat maker SilverHook Powerboats (San Diego, CA, USA) and cognitive computing specialist DataSkill (San Diego, CA, USA), allowing the SilverHook to run complex diagnostics in real time on racing boats travelling at high speeds.

“The ocean can be a brutal environment and it’s the platform that DataSkill and SilverHook Powerboats chose to prove out their IBM solutions for intelligently predicting performance and reliability while on the ocean race track at 140mph,” said Nigel Hook, the chief executive of DataSkill.

Analyst firm IDC reckons there will be as many as 28 billion autonomous IoT devices installed worldwide by 2020, up from nine billion today, and IBM is hoping to capitalize on this expected growth.

“Think of the IoT Foundation as an extremely fast on ramp to the cloud for the millions of intelligent IoT devices that are now being shipped, and the billions already Internet connected,” said John Thompson, vice president of IoT for IBM.

“While many vendors are talking about IoT, we’ve led thousands of engagements and are one of the first to enable business to rapidly gain access to the big data that billions of sensors, chips, controllers and RFID tags generate,” he added. “Combined with our proven cloud, analytics, mobile and security capabilities, IBM provides one of the most comprehensive IoT solutions for clients to derive new business insights and competitive advantage.”

Besides announcing details of IoT Foundation, IBM has also revealed plans to develop a partner program for IoT, and says this is expected to include ARM (Cambridge, UK), B&B Electronics (Ottawa, IL, USA), Elecsys (Olathe, KS, USA), Intel (Santa Clara, CA, USA), Multi-Tech Systems (Mounds View, MN, USA) and Texas Instruments (Dallas, TX, USA).

“Combining trusted, open-standard based data from connected devices with other data sources can lead to the creation of exciting new services,” said Krisztian Flautner, general manager of the IoT business for ARM. “The IBM IoT Foundation can unleash the potential of a connected world and by utilizing the ARM mbed software ecosystem, there is a real chance that IoT solutions can positively influence the way smart cities, businesses and homes develop.”
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