Wolfram offers data analysis stack to device makers

At CES, Wolfram is pitching its numerical analysis middleware as the lingua franca for the so-called Internet of Things

Wolfram Connected Devices Project aims to provide a curated source of systematic knowledge about connected devices.

Wolfram Connected Devices Project aims to provide a curated source of systematic knowledge about connected devices.

Banking on its deep expertise in mathematical analysis and visualization, Wolfram Research is extending its set of tools so they can be used by portable device manufacturers to offer richer, more interactive data to their users.

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Wolfram, makers of the widely-used Mathematica numerical analysis software, has launched a set of middleware that it hopes will serve as the lingua franca for the so-called Internet of Things.

"We've been interacting with many device manufacturers over the past year or so. And it's been very encouraging. Because it seems as if the technology stack we've been building all these years is exactly what people need," said Stephen Wolfram, founder and CEO of Wolfram Research, in a Monday blog post announcing the new initiative.

The new Wolfram Data Framework (WDF) can serve as a bridge between data-collecting electronic devices and desktop or cloud-based analytical services, according to the company.

Wolfram has also launched a directory of consumer and industrial devices that use the framework, called the Wolfram Connected Devices Project, which compiles the characteristics and specifications of each device in a structured database so they can be easily searched and compared.

Today, network-connected portable devices are being developed that generate an increasingly large amount of data on behalf of their users.

Think of a sports watch that monitors the user's heart rate, or a bathroom scale that communicates the user's weight to a nearby computer by WiFi.

Manufacturers themselves typically develop the software that displays and aggregates the information from their devices, with varying degrees of sophistication.

Wolfram has developed a set of tools to ease the job. While not traditionally thought of as a provider of tools to help develop mobile software, Wolfram nonetheless brings two distinct advantages to the market, both of which come from its extensive work on Mathematica, Wolfram asserted.

One advantage is the company's vast library for handling physical quantities and their units of measurement. The company has compiled nearly 10,000 units of measurement, covering almost everything any device could possible keep track of, such as length, time, acceleration, torque, or tensile strength, all in a wide variety of scales.

These measurements are all encapsulated in the company's WDF, which, according to Wolfram, "provides an immediate way to represent not just raw numbers from a device, but, say, images or geopositions -- or actual measured physical quantities." Using WDF could save much of the work of writing the conversion algorithms from scratch.

Wolfram also offers a head-start in data representation, through the company's Wolfram Data Science Platform. The platform provides a way to visualize, analyze, and interact with data, using the Wolfram Language, a general purpose language developed by Wolfram Research.

To use these capabilities, a device manufacturer would install a Wolfram Language driver on each device, one that delivers the low level data to the WDF, which in turn could convert it into more sophisticated data structures.

WDF-based services could then be run either on a local computer, or as a cloud service by the device manufacturer.

Using WDF devices, a jogger, for instance, could easily compare the times of his or her recent runs, as captured on a sports watch, or analyze them for long-term trends. Then, the jogging times can be combined with daily weight taken from a bathroom scale, so the two sets of data can be correlated to observe the effect of jogging on average daily weight.

Or, a hospital could compile patient data from a variety of WDF diagnostic instruments, to have all the information in one location.

In addition to health monitoring, connected electronic devices could deliver information about a wide range of activities, such as home energy usage or the location of children and pets.

The WDF datasets would be richer than those typically offered now, because they are in a more structured and computationally friendly format, Wolfram argued. Instead of using a simple dashboard, users could deploy a search engine to specify the exact parameters of information that they are seeking.

Already some Wolfram software has made it into portable devices. For instance, the Wolfram Language is already bundled into the Raspberry Pi US$25 Linux computer.

The company also announced it is working with Intel to develop a version of the Wolfram Language for Intel's Edison, an embeddable computer the size of an SD flash storage card. Wolfram expects the Edison, which Intel announced at CES, to be used in a wide range of portable devices.

The Wolfram Connected Devices Program will serve as a directory of devices that could support the WDF. Thus far, the company has compiled basic entries on a few thousand devices, including kitchen scales, sport watches and GPS devices. Overall, products from about 300 different companies are represented in the database.

Visitors of the directory can use the Wolfram|Alpha search engine to search for, and compare, devices, by their individual characteristics.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags CESconsumer electronicshardware systemsWolfram Researchaccessories

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

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

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?