Highlights of this year’s IoT blog: 2016 round-up

By | 5 minute read | December 28, 2016

Blog highlights

‘Tis the season for reminiscing and looking back on what’s been an…interesting… 2016. Actually, it’s not all been bad. It’s the first year of IBM’s IoT blog, for one thing. Since May, anyway. It’s been a busy time for us, with announcements, conferences and more than a few exciting developments in the world of IoT – making a difference to everything from sports to the environment. So to finish off the year, here’s a little round-up of some of our favourite posts. 

This year’s announcements

We’ve had a year of exciting announcements, and welcomed collaborations with Schaeffler, Arialtronics, Siemens and Volkswagen Group, to name just a few. Here are some highlights:

  • December 2016: BMW Group to start research with IBM in Munich IoT HQ collaborator: Just last week, we announced that BMW will be the first partner to join IBM in their Munich IoT HQ ‘collaboratory’. The two companies are researching how cognitive computing can personalize the driving experience – like having a conversation with your car, for instance.
  • May 2016: IBM opens new headquarters in Munich: In May, Chief Scientist for Computer Aided Design (and general legend) John Cohn talked us through the new Watson IoT Headquarters in Munich, complete with fabrication lab (known affectionately as the ‘Department of Wow’), which comes complete with rapid prototyping tools like 3D printers, laser cutters and all that jazz.

Events and conferences

The Watson dev team have been hard at work, sharing ideas and showcasing the latest IoT prototypes at events around the world, including October’s World of Watson in Las Vegas, and November’s Watson Developer Conference in San Francisco.

World of Watson, 24-27 October, Las Vegas

  • Olli: Artificial Intelligence for the real world, in record time: Karen Lewis introduces Olli, the self-driving shuttle bus designed to take the pain out of public transport. The team met Olli and even got to take a ride at World of Watson this year.
  • IBM Watson will predict the future: Writing from the World of Watson conference, Lynne Slowey investigates where Watson will be in ten years’ time. Watson already speaks 9 languages, is available in 45 countries and can predict the weather. It also knows whether a diabetic will have a hypoglycemic episode three hours before it happens. So what’s next? Read on to find out.
  • How can the IoT use Blockchain?: Scott Stockwell shows how the IoT and Blockchain can securely share information among all stakeholders in a business network, through smart contracts and shared ledgers. It all makes for a more transparent, efficient process.

Watson Developer Conference, 9-10 November, San Francisco

  • How to build a bot in 10 minutes: Scott discovers how to build a basic bot using IBM’s BlueMix platform, gets an introduction to bots that understand natural language, and learns the difference between specific intents and broad entities.
  • Bluemix to Blushop: girls that code: Lynne gets to grips with Scratch, Python, C++, HTML and Java and proves that coding isn’t a skill confined to the male sex when she meets Michelle Liang, Karen Supandi and Madison Gong, alumni of the IBM Silicon Valley Girls Who Code programme.
  • Hacking with a purpose: Safer communities through mobile tech – a recipe for developers: Who says technology is evil? The team join up with Cybertwins America and Penelope Lopez to find out about their Beacon of Hope project – using the IoT to get emergency help or support to those who need it.

The year in sports

Watson got involved at this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio, working with the USA Women’s Cycling Team to incorporate the IoT into their training regime.

  • USA Cycling brings IoT data and analytics to the track: The U.S. Cycling Women’s Team Pursuit joined forces with Watson IoT to incorporate real-time data analytics from the Internet of Things into their training regime. The team brought home a silver medal at this year’s Olympics.
  • IoT at the Paralympics: the connected swimming cap: A connected swim cap for blind swimmers revolutionizes the way swimmers make their underwater turns, by emitting a gentle vibration when they approach the side. It is a welcome improvement to the current system, where a swimmer’s coach taps them on the head with a stick when it’s time to make the turn.
  • Revolutionary eAscot app guides blind marathon runners: An app launched this year specifically to help blind marathon runners stay on course. eAscot, developed in partnership with ultra-marathon runner Simon Wheatcroft, uses audio signals to alert runners when they deviate too far from their route.

Health and wellbeing: where the IoT changes lives

Big data analytics made possible by a super computer like Watson has far-reaching implications for the world of medicine and healthcare. From mining vast amounts of data to help come up with individual treatment plans tailored to a particular patient, to assisting those whose mobility is impaired, it’s clear there’s a caring side to the connected world.

  • The Precision Race Car: IoT and the story of Sam Schmidt: In October, we wrote about the amazing story of Sam Schmidt, the professional racing driver tragically paralysed from the neck down following a devastating crash in 2000. Thanks to the cognitive capabilities of a specially designed car and the innovation of a group of engineers at Arrow Electronics Inc., in 2014 Sam was finally able to drive again – solo.
  • Thomas Jefferson University Hospital launches cognitive rooms: The IoT came to hospitals this year, as Thomas Jefferson University Hospital tested patient rooms that could be personalized for a patient’s comfort through simple voice commands.
  • The Internet of Type 1 diabetes: Writer Kim Kemble investigated the consequences of IBM’s partnership with Medtronic to help diabetics manage their condition, through real-time information about their blood glucose levels.

Blogging on the lighter side

It’s not all serious in the IoT Blog HQ. We’re mad for a bad pun and a crazy gizmo here and there. Here are one or two highlights from the lighter side: 

  • Watson plays Pokemon Go: AT&T Hackathon Winner! This one topped the charts at our most read blog yet, when Michael Hsu, a front and back-end developer, got Watson to play Pokémon Go for him by using its Visual Recognition API to identify Pokémon characters.
  • Dogstar: the world’s first dog emotion sensor: Sure the IoT’s useful, but can it help with your pets? Apparently, it can! Dogstar is the first ever canine emotional sensor – a wearable for your dog’s tail, that captures movement and translates it into the emotion your dog is experiencing. All you have to do is look at the app.
  • IoT ruins movies: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: We’ve been ruining your favourite flicks and TV series by subjecting them to a few IoT-laden ‘what if’ scenarios. Here, we give Buffy a few choice tricks up her sleeve – from temperature-sensing smart doorbells to connected stakes.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s blog. It’s growing all the time, so watch this space for more from the connected world in 2017. Got an idea for a post? Let us know in the comments below!