IBM's do-it-yourself kit makes Internet of Things accessible

IBM and Libelium have partnered to sell a starter kit to test sensor networks

IBM and Libelium's Waspmote Mote Runner for the Internet of things

IBM and Libelium's Waspmote Mote Runner for the Internet of things

IBM and hardware partner Libelium hope to cut through the complexities of the so-called "Internet of things" through a do-it-yourself kit allowing users to test and deploy sensor networks.

The companies on Monday introduced the Waspmote Mote Runner, a computer that can collect and share data with other devices within wireless range. IBM is providing the software tools while Libelium is making the hardware, which will include sensors to collect weather, server temperature and other information.

The hardware is a motherboard with sensors for gases, oxygen, carbon dioxide, temperature, motion, light, soil temperature, GPS and others. The board comes with standard interfaces including Ethernet and serial interfaces, so it can be plugged into existing hardware like smart meters or installations like solar energy plants.

Waspmote Mote Runner is priced at €1,550 to €2,550 (US$2,121 to $3,489), depending on the types of sensors on the board. The product is targeted at enthusiasts and scientists looking to deploy complex mesh networks in which sensors exchange data, IBM said. For example, geologists could collect data with the help of the board and meteorologists could collect weather data.

IBM is positioning the device as one way to expand into the area of the Internet of things, in which low-power devices are data-gathering instruments that can send and receive data. These devices usually have wireless communication capabilities or are connected to the Internet.

There are hugely diversified devices, networks and protocols being used to collect and transmit data, said Thorsten Kramp, an IBM scientist.

"It's a mess," Kramp said. "We wanted to make it much simpler."

IBM is providing software tools called Mote Runner so programs can be written for the device using Java and C-Sharp. The tools support a range of data transfer protocols being proposed for the Internet of things including MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport), which has been adopted by many hardware and software makers.

With the kit, users will be able to simulate a mesh network in which data is collected and transferred, Kramp said. Programming is simpler as the APIs (application programming interfaces) are smaller.

Also new is support for the next-generation IPv6, which will drive data transfers over the Internet in the future.

This is not IBM's first foray into the Internet of things. IBM uses sensors in its servers to collect temperatures and other information, and the company is working with some hardware makers to test other sensor network installations. But this is one of the few do-it-yourself kits being offered through the company.

Networks and programming tools are becoming more complex with the increase in the number of devices and the type of information gathered, Kramp said.

Some low-power sensors are not enough anymore and more processing is needed to analyze data before information is transmitted. Applications need to be written for sensors to handle complex data patterns and to determine where the information needs to be sent.

"The larger your network is getting, the more difficult it is to get plain data out," Kramp said.

IBM is also working with the Internet of Things-Architecture consortium to define a standard around data transfer protocols and device interconnects. The development effort is partly funded by the European Union, with consortium partners including Siemens, NEC, Hitachi, Alcatel-Lucent and others.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet of ThingsIBMhardware systemssoftware

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?