IBM Bets $3 Billion on the Internet of Things

Big Blue will invest $3 billion in the business of analyzing data from Internet-connected sensors

2 min read
IBM Bets $3 Billion on the Internet of Things
Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Corbis

IBM sees the huge river of data streaming from Internet-connected smartphones, home appliances, and vehicles as a big business opportunity for the near future. “Big Blue” announced on Monday that it would invest US $3 billion over four years on a new business aimed at helping filter the data coming from the growing swarm of sensor-equipped devices.

The new IBM business unit uses online software called the Internet of Things Foundation that allows partner companies and clients to build new applicationsor tweak existing appswith a focus on analyzing data coming from many different devices. IBM also plans to team up with the Weather Company, owner of the Weather Channel, for the purpose of creating weather data applications to help businesses in fields such as insurance, energy, retail and logistics, according to the Wall Street Journal.

IBM’s latest business move anticipates huge growth in the Internet of Things, the growing swarm of devices capable of collecting data and sharing it all online. That swarm could include wearable wristband devices such as the Apple Watch, exercise and health-monitoring devices, household gadgets such as Nest’s smart thermostat, and smart cars capable of sharing information about weather and traffic conditions. IBM is betting that many companies will pay handsomely for help in analyzing the deluge of data coming from thousands or millions of sensors and computing devices.

The Weather Company has already been selling data to weather-sensitive industries such agriculture or transportation, the Wall Street Journal reports. Weather sensor coverage has become ubiquitous enough to enable farmers to predict how hail or other weather conditions could affect certain fields. But the Weather Company’s new partnership with IBM could make use of Big Blue’s software and existing relationships with many industries.

Such a partnership also makes sense for IBM, given the company’s focus on creating and selling software capable of helping businesses sift through the mountains of Big Data. The company has also been developing new supercomputer hardware capable of efficiently handling the torrent of data being collected and stored every day.

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How the FCC Settles Radio-Spectrum Turf Wars

Remember the 5G-airport controversy? Here’s how such disputes play out

11 min read
This photo shows a man in the basket of a cherry picker working on an antenna as an airliner passes overhead.

The airline and cellular-phone industries have been at loggerheads over the possibility that 5G transmissions from antennas such as this one, located at Los Angeles International Airport, could interfere with the radar altimeters used in aircraft.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

You’ve no doubt seen the scary headlines: Will 5G Cause Planes to Crash? They appeared late last year, after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration warned that new 5G services from AT&T and Verizon might interfere with the radar altimeters that airplane pilots rely on to land safely. Not true, said AT&T and Verizon, with the backing of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which had authorized 5G. The altimeters are safe, they maintained. Air travelers didn’t know what to believe.

Another recent FCC decision had also created a controversy about public safety: okaying Wi-Fi devices in a 6-gigahertz frequency band long used by point-to-point microwave systems to carry safety-critical data. The microwave operators predicted that the Wi-Fi devices would disrupt their systems; the Wi-Fi interests insisted they would not. (As an attorney, I represented a microwave-industry group in the ensuing legal dispute.)

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