Getting “Things” Moving
Minimizing Time-to-Value for IoT Solutions with IBM Technology
Emerging Technologies specializes in creating business value for IBM’s clients using new and innovative technology. That tech comes from many sources including research, open source and, indeed, Emerging Technologies itself. One major source is the steady flow of new tech from IBM’s own research and development teams, and Emerging Technologies often works with clients to create proof-of-concept and first-of-a-kind solutions to demonstrate the full capabilities and business value of IBM innovations.
Recently, Emerging Technologies worked closely with IBM Global Business Services to create a proof-of-concept Internet of Things (IoT) solution for clients specializing in global industrial infrastructure management. Built on IBM’s Bluemix platform, the solution provides for the capture and analysis of telemetry from sensors connected to fixed and mobile industrial assets, storage and analysis of the data in the cloud, and a mobile tablet-based app to provide on-site support to maintenance technicians.
The goal of the proof-of-concept was to demonstrate the power and flexibility of IBM’s latest cloud, Watson IoT, analytics and mobile capabilities for rapid solution development and deployment – in this case an end-to-end device/technician workflow. Emerging Technologies provided the technical and design leadership for the project, which brought together IBM specialists from teams around the world.
The solution provides a powerful proof-point of IBM’s IoT capabilities, which are being recognized by major clients such as KONE who recently signed a multiyear agreement in which IBM will provide cloud-based IoT technologies and services to drive innovation in smart buildings. KONE will be able to analyze vast amounts of data from sensors embedded in equipment helping to identify and predict issues, minimize downtime and personalize the experience for users.
The requirement for a global solution that could scale, and be rapidly extended with new functionality, led us naturally to selecting the IBM Bluemix cloud platform. A critical ingredient in reducing time-to-value was the use of Emerging Technologies’ own Node-RED visual wiring tool (available in Bluemix as well as a standalone app) to accelerate the development of the cloud-based infrastructure. With Node-RED we could quickly compose the major components of the solution from Bluemix’s rich catalog of IBM and third party services.
To illustrate the story and the vision, real devices were used throughout the development. Texas Instruments SensorTags connected via Bluetooth Low Energy proved to be ideal for this. The use of real devices not only made the solution demonstrable from the very earliest stages of development, but also helped to identify and resolve design issues that would otherwise only have become manifest much later in development and/or deployment.
The User Perspective
The value of the Internet of Things comes not from the “things” themselves, but from the insights that can be derived from the information that they provide. Moreover, those insights are of little use unless they are made available simply, efficiently, and where and when they are needed by the business user. Consequently, consideration of the channels available to the user to exploit the IoT for asset management was a prime consideration.
IBM’s exclusive partnership with Apple aims to transform enterprise mobility, and rightly so. The power and flexibility that devices such as tablets and smartphones can bring to the enterprise – when combined with a new class of business apps – is indeed transformative.
We looked at the full spectrum of capabilities that service personnel (including maintenance technicians) at all levels would require. The result was a tablet app that gave global-level insights supported by local-level detail. The app presents status, trends, and history associated with assets (all served from the cloud) combined with real-time device control and monitoring.
In addition to the app, the solution provided Web-based real-time dashboarding using IBM Watson IoT Platform Analytics Real-Time Insights. This new technology allows data streaming from devices to be monitored, analyzed and visualized. Rules can be configured to raise alerts and work orders when out-of-band device telemetry is received.
By using IBM’s open standards-based Watson IoT Cloud platform, Application Programming Interfaces (API’s) into the solution can be made available. This enables and encourages the creation of a new developer ecosystem to build applications that exploit the solution’s assets in, as yet, unforeseen ways.
Emerging Technology at Hursley
The UK Emerging Technology team has over 20 years experience working with clients to bridge the divide between new technology and business value. A relentless focus on new ways of working and new ideas has fueled that long history. The team fuses extensive client and industry experience with innovation and first-of-a-kind technology to produce compelling solutions to solve real business challenges.
The team is made up of highly skilled technical professionals, including some of IBM’s most prolific inventors, with a proven track record of delivering innovative proofs-of-concept and bespoke solutions to IBM clients across a wide range of business areas.