Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

This is part two of a series about retail shopping trends.  See the first part here

by Leeann Fecho,  Marketing Manager for Emerging Media and Loyalty, Follett Higher Education Group

Managing the digital marketing activities of 900+ different stores brings both constant challenges and immensely rewarding work. Follett Higher Education Group is the largest operator of university bookstores in North America, and as Marketing Manager for Emerging Media and Loyalty, I’m responsible for the company’s loyalty marketing strategy and execution, which includes email, social media and mobile marketing efforts.  Our customers are primarily in the 18-24 year-old demographic—college students—a group that is typically known for being both cost-conscious and social media-savvy.

While speaking on an IBM breakfast panel in Chicago, I had the opportunity to discuss the growing influence, rise and reach of digital marketing. Marketing—in particular, digital marketing—must be very responsive to marketplace shifts fueled both by the business and the consumer.  Of all the consumer trends felt by retailers today, there are three I believe are having an immediate and seismic impact on marketing initiatives. Continue Reading »

Bookmark and Share
May 10th, 2012

by Ioannis (Yannis) N. Miaoulis, president and director of the Museum of Science, Boston

I am delighted that IBM recently launched Minds of Modern Mathematics, the free iPad app that recreates the remarkable 50-foot infographic on the history of math designed by Charles and Ray Eames.

IBM collaborated with the Eameses to develop the richly illustrated timeline for Mathematica: A World of Numbers…and Beyond, an exhibit that opened at the California Museum of Science and Industry (now the California Science Center) in Los Angeles in 1961. Replicas later traveled to the New York World’s Fair and beyond.

Mathematica’s interactive models illustrating basic math concepts have intrigued visitors at the Museum of Science, Boston since 1981. Children like playing with the Celestial Mechanics machine, releasing steel balls into orbits like those of planets around the sun, while a 12-foot-high Probability Board captivates adults, as it sends plastic balls clattering through a maze of steel pins to form a bell-shaped probability curve.  Here is our exhibit:

Continue Reading »

Bookmark and Share

Tonight IBM will receive the World Environment Center’s Gold Medal, so this week we asked students at the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise to share their  views on sustainability (we’ve included a video to show what IBM is doing to make the world smarter).  Here’s the final post in the series, from Lawrence Han:

People complain that my generation’s “addiction” to technology will lead us down the path of unsustainability.  I think they are wrong.  While it is true that my generation, Gen Y (those born after 1980) is the quickest demographic to adopt new computing trends, the advances that we are adopting—mobile, cloud, big data—are intrinsically greener.  So, as white-collar Baby Boomers step away from their life in front of a computer, and the new wave of Gen Y workers step forward to take their place, the computing landscape will move to a more energy efficient and sustainable future.

Consider that a decade ago, Baby Boomer households joined the Internet Revolution by purchasing hulking desktop computers. But over the past decade we have seen a shift with laptops overtaking the personal computing market. And that means less energy use—a typical laptop uses 45 watts  while your typical energy guzzling desktop computer uses a whopping 100 to 300 watts of electricity.

Continue Reading »

Bookmark and Share
January 13th, 2010

Click to listen to podcast: Building a Smarter Planet – Patents

Manny Schecter, IBM Chief Patent Counsel told me that “patents are the currency of innovation.”

Approximately 150,000 U.S. patents are granted to investors each year and for the last 17 years, IBM has received more U.S. patents than any other company in the world. According to IFI Patent Intelligence, in 2009 IBM was issued 4,914 U.S. patents. So IBM is clearly a major player in the world of innovation.

Yet it’s still the case that some don’t know what IBM does. It’s clear based on numbers that IBM is an “innovative” company, sure, but what does IBM invent and why?

What I found out from speaking with Kathryn Guarini and John Gunnels, two IBMers with a number of IBM patents is that, believe it or not, inventors don’t want to spend their time reinventing the wheel to pad their portfolio, they’re looking toward innovation that matters (a company line which I understand better now that I’ve spoken with some true innovators). Guarini, director of Systems and Technology Development for IBM Systems and Technology Group says, “We want to innovate where there is real value. We don’t want to innovate everywhere, all the time.”

Mr. Gunnels is a research scientist in the area of high performance computing.  He has worked on several projects and is named on multiple patents related to IBM’s Blue Gene Supercomputer which was awarded the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2009. Blue Gene systems have helped map the human genome, investigate medical therapies, safeguard nuclear arsenals, simulate radioactive decay, simulate brain power, envision financial scenarios, predict weather and climate trends, and identify fossil fuels. And he told me that there have actually been cases where Blue Gene predicts the outcome of an experiment, which were only later verified with an actual experiment.

Several patents have been issued around Blue Gene in 2009, but consider another patent which IBM was issued this year:

U.S. Patent 7,612,655 – “Alarm System for Hearing Impaired Individuals Having Hearing Assistive Implanted Devices”
This patent describes a method for alerting profoundly deaf sleepers to danger, such as fire and carbon monoxide, or to circumstances such as a doorbell, phone call or wakeup alarm.  The concept works best for deaf individuals who have cochlear implants.  These people typically deactivate their implants when they bathe or sleep for reasons of comfort and safety.  They do so by detaching a small device normally worn outside the ear, and which normally functions as a signal transmitter to an implanted component.  During sleep or bathing activities, they typically can’t or won’t wear a device that vibrates, nor can they rely on flashing lights to catch their attention.  The patented method enables the implanted component to begin buzzing abnormally or stay silent, depending on what occasion for which the user has programmed it to respond.

As an IBMer, it’s a source of job-related pride to see companies like mine investing in something that actually makes a difference for our company and for the world. “Innovation that matters”, not just a catchy slogan or corporate mantra.  It is one of our company values.  Something we, as IBMers, take pride in and use as inspiration everyday. And I think that the real thing to take away from all the reports on patents and patent leadership is this: a great number of these innovations being patented are helping to make the world safer, cleaner, more efficient and most notably, smarter; for people, societies, and for the world.

To read about more IBM innovations and their impact, see this article from IBM Research.

Bookmark and Share

Catch the external webcast of NPUC 2009 (New Paradigms in Using Computers) from IBM’s Almaden Research Center, tomorrow, starting at 12 noon Eastern, on the GBS New Intelligence Video Studio
Catch the external webcast of NPUC 2009 (New Paradigms in Using Computers) from IBM’s Almaden Research Center, tomorrow, starting at 12 noon Eastern, on the GBS New Intelligence Video Studio

Bookmark and Share
February 17th, 2009

The companion to this blog, our Smarter Planet site on Tumblr, is what feeds the "Related Discussions Across the Internet" links in the left hand navigation.

As Tumblr aptly describes its platform, if a blog is more like a journal or longer-form discussion format, a "tumblelog" is more like a scrapbook. Posts are brief, multimedia and in our case, cover the waterfront of news, developments, sites, insights and examples of how a smarter planet is emerging. Our goal is to give people a broad feel for what smarter planet means, and how widely it is taking shape.

And now we've i
mplemented a version of the site optimized for mobile devices.  So be sure to add to your iPhone, Blackberry or other device bookmarks.

Of course, this mobile iteration isn't just a convenience for the rapidly growing ranks of mobile internet users. The explosion of web-enabled smartphones and other handheld devices loaded with sensors such as cameras, microphones and GPS chips is one of the most salient signs of the "internet of things" and "ubiquitous computing" that is central to what Smarter Planet is all about.

Jack Mason
IBM Global Business Services, Strategic Programs & Social Media Innovation

Bookmark and Share

My colleague Adam Christensen wants to make Smarter Planet something that matters to each of us: something that more people can understand, appreciate and maybe even feel some degree of personal, emotional connection to.

I couldn’t agree more. First, because the changes envisioned through Smarter Planet, and the challenges to making them happen, are big. Huge even. Building the new infrastucture the world needs to solve our energy, healthcare and environmental dilemmas isn’t really an abstraction. In fact it is possibly the largest and most daunting task in human history. But the scale of that ambition is also what makes this frontier so meaningful and interesting: the mother of all Manhattan projects.
Of course, turning global “complex systems” — like the network that makes up how food is grown, distributed and consumed — into something safer, smarter and more sustainable sounds nice. It’s just may not be something that individuals feel like they can touch or effect, no matter how desirable the goal may seem.ill
The same thing goes for the idea that the Web we know today may be on the verge of becoming something deeply different: an Internet of trillions of things, with practically every imaginable object connected to it, flowing into it. That may sound cool or interesting to some, but for many, the real reaction to the idea of “ubiquitous computing” may be “so what?” or “why should I care?”
The short answer, I think, is that this new world won’t just be the Internet, only more. It’s real promise is to give us better ability to innovate our way out of the real looming threats ahead. By the middle of this century, now just four decades away, human population will almost certainly jump from six billion people to nine billion, possibly twelve. And many of those new billions will be following the lifestyles of the developed world.  As one obsever in India recently noted, it would take three Earths to support that many people using the same amount of energy and resources that Americans alone consume today.
So to help people understand, and I hope, care more about some of these tectonic technology changes afoot, I’ve found video clips to make two of these key ideas a little easier to grasp.
First, to make the Internet-of-Things concept a bit more accessible, I stumbled on this clip about a new device, called Mir:ror, from an unusual company called Violet. It shows how smart “tags” or radio frequency identity (RFID) chips could change the way everyday physical objects may become intergrated into our digital lives. (Such “smart tags” are already revolutionizing industrial product managment in areas such as shipping, logistics and inventory control.)

For more on the Internet of Things, see this set of posts tagged “internet-of-things” on the Smarter Planet site on Tumblr.
In addition to the Web becoming more instrumented and interconnected, with more kinds of devices, objects and sensors feeding into it, another big component of the “new intelligence” is what some called Web 3.0, or the Semantic Web.
This emerging front is about the ability for pieces of data, applications and all kinds of content to “talk” or interact with other informational objects. A picture or video could describe not just when and where it was taken, but what it depicts.  A small software program could receive or give instructions on how it might interoperate with another application.
If Web 2.0 — today’s world of social networks and a renaissance in interpersonal communications and user-generated content– is defined by people being better able to share and collaborate, this next phase will enable data and programs to similarly intermingle and generate new innovations.
The Semantic Web is still very much a work in progress, and not the easiest idea to wrap one’s head around, but this clip — Intro to The Semantic Web – offers a brief and accessible overview of some of the main principles.
In a very rough sense,  these two ideas together form the foundation of what we’re calling the New Intelligence — an Internet that is wired up to the physical world via many new kinds of sensors, smart tags, and devices, and a new architecture that enables data to start behaving in rich new ways.
In practical terms, this new field of knowledge should help businesses make better predictions and more judicious decisions, and via such an improved management model, reduce risk and facilitate growth. But such an expansion of the intellectual and informational toolbox at our disposal should also pave the way for new areas of scientific research and exploration.
To get a broader view of this new intelligence horizon, take a look at the channel of related posts on the Tumblr site, and this section of
Jack Mason
IBM Global Business Services, Strategic Programs

Bookmark and Share
December 2nd, 2008

As we expand our social media outreach for Smarter Planet, we will begin to feature and point to other bloggers who are thinking and investigating issues related to intelligent infrastructure. (Please feel free to recommend, via comments here, blogs and sites that we should connect with.)
Here’s one example from the Healthnex blog, on wearable healthcare devices and a home monitering system developed by Intel.

You can also sift through several years of Healthnex posts on topics related to smarter planet such as "e-health trends," healthcare IT innovations, clinical decision support systems and genomics.

JackbhiheadJack Mason
IBM Global Business Services

Bookmark and Share

Subscribe to this category Subscribe to Web/Tech