When even the most common objects in our world — sidewalks, pipes and toaster ovens — all need internet connections to function, society has a serious addiction to bandwidth.
We’ve dedicated a lot of cyber-ink on this blog to the Internet of Things. And we aren’t the only ones. Just read the Internet of Things archive at Read Write Web and you’ll see just how many objects require an IP address to function. In a recent post, “The “Rise of the Machines,” VentureBeat claims that global revenue from sales of wireless telecommunications technology for M2M (machine-to-machine) systems are set to spike from $1 billion this year to $6.5 billion in 2014, according to iSuppli.
As the world’s buildings and infrastructure evolve towards smarter cities, they’ll add vast new oceans of data to already creaking communications infrastructure. All manner of digital detritus is crowding the world’s wireless infrastructure. Growing arrays of cameras, sensors and other devices chat among themselves, communicating on all manner of commercial activity from the number of cartons in a cargo ship’s hold to how many cars are stuck at the next freeway ramp. Very often M2M data are critical in nature — real-time hospital data on a patient’s status, perhaps, or tracking bad guys somewhere.
Of course, analytics is a big play for IBM in this space — users will need powerful hardware and smart software to make sense of all this data. We also play at a more protean level — we offer cutting-edge chip technology to makers of networking gear, optical switches and handsets. Very often, our custom-chip offerings provide breakthroughs. Ten years ago, for example, our silicon-germanium technology helped jump-start the wireless revolution.
This week we start selling a new custom-chip offering (WSJ) that looks like it has breakthrough written all over it.
We call it the Cu-32 Design Kit (sounds like a refugee from the Periodic Table). It gives custom-chip designers a potent toolkit to create the next-gen networks that will become a foundation of smart-planet communications.
For consumers, Cu-32 arrives in time to keep the teens texting and HD movies streaming through the ether. The rapid rise of web-enabled consumer devices will only add to consumers’ expectations of fast, always-on connections wherever they happen to be. Over the next five years, research firm In-Stat expects the majority of CE devices purchased, including digital TVs, Blu-ray players and gaming consoles to be web-enabled, with 137 million devices shipping in the U.S. in 2014. Experts say that as consumers demand better service from mobile networks, providers will be looking to technology like Cu-32 to deliver.