Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent
September, 23rd 2010
8:22
 

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IBM employees are curious. We try to seek out relationships that lead to expanding our knowledge in exciting areas of innovation and thought. When we engage with experts from outside our company, we take the time to listen, the time to think, we ask questions. Sometimes we find ourselves in these situations where – if we approach with respect and an open ear – we afford ourselves the opportunity to collaborate, to further the conversation, to build valuable relationships. We are a global network of experts seeking to further our innovative insight through our innate curiosity, our collaborative nature, and our respect for the work and achievements of others.

As an example of this, a handful of IBMers over the last few years have visited the MIT SENSEable City Laboratory in Cambridge Massachusetts to meet with the students and faculty members there, and to learn about some of the innovative projects they have underway. Just as IBM has been exploring how to make our cities more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent, the folks at MIT have been investigating and testing their own ideas in a number of cities over the last 6 years. Their projects are fascinating.

One project from the SENSEable Cities Lab that has caught the eye of many IBMers over the past few years is called Trash Track. In a nutshell, this project involved attaching RFID tags to everyday garbage items so that the geographic movement of the trash could be tracked for up to a year depending on variables. An Internet of Things project of sorts based on Location Awareness, with mapping, analytics, and ultimately analysis of the tags as attached to their hosts traveling about — glass, metals, plastics, organic waste etc — this project provided unique and surprising lessons for all involved.

In hearing about this project, IBM Fellow John Cohn agreed to take a trip to the MIT campus — his alma mater — to participate in a discussion with SENSEable Cities Associate Director Assaf Biderman to learn more about Trash Track. This video is the result of that trip, and some of the things we learned that day.

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6 Comments
 
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Posted by: Goondoza
 
October 18, 2010
7:59 pm

In my community, I understand there is a huge deal with moving garbage and recycled materials around from one processing center to another. Although it increases employment, it does not seem prudent to be trucking stuff from point A to point B. Why not just deal with garbage and recycled materials as efficiently as possible at point of origin (i.e. stop trucking it around and polluting the air). Now, what is the added value of tagging garbage with RFID tags if we deal with effective disposal/recycling in the first place!


Posted by: David
 
September 29, 2010
10:52 am

He’s right, It’s a GREAT time to be a geek! Interacting across disciplines has never be so prevalent as today.


Posted by: Sandy Adam
 
September 23, 2010
10:30 am

There is a small disconnect in this video between what John Cohn over at IBM says and the experiment from MIT. John makes the ever true remark that electronics are getting smaller and cheaper and therefore if embedded can make objects smarter. Putting intelligence in everyday objects would allow us to get information about their location and condition. What he really means, and the video should have illustrated this better, is that: electronics, let’s call them the ‘avatar chip’ will be populated on things we make as standard industrial biometrics by manufacturers. We will not ‘have a call with the object via cell phone’ to ask about location and condition but rather interact with things intrinsically. For this to happen, we need to work on several levels of technology: 1) the hardware intelligence component to be designed into the object’s fabric, 2) the software component to be pushed to the Cloud for capability, visibility and reach, 3) a new type of infrastructure is needed, that is capable of ‘reaching’ everywhere, AND 4) we need to work on the social acceptance, behavior, legality, aspects to make sure this IS what we want, this IS needed and it will be accepted.

A cell phone based tag attached to garbage makes for a good modeling exercise and a good video too. Congratulations!


Posted by: Marius Ghercioiu
 
1 Trackback
 
October 11, 2010
3:52 pm

[...] that blog on this one is about a project that MIT is working on, called Trash Track. Post found here, the project’s homepage is here.  The project places tracking beacons on everyday trash [...]


Posted by: Throw it in the garbage… and it’s still yours. | Making Green Happen
 
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