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 applications—or tweak existing apps—with 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.
Jeremy Hsu has been working as a science and technology journalist in New York City since 2008. He has written on subjects as diverse as supercomputing and wearable electronics for IEEE Spectrum. When he’s not trying to wrap his head around the latest quantum computing news for Spectrum, he also contributes to a variety of publications such as Scientific American, Discover, Popular Science, and others. He is a graduate of New York University’s Science, Health & Environmental Reporting Program.