Touring with IBM technology – Vintage style

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What if we combined a 1930s vintage Riley sports car with the most modern IBM IoT & Messaging software, along with some electronic sensory equipment?

Mixing the new with the old creates interesting results showing that technology is not limited to the back office.

In September 2015 Mark Barnard set out on a European tour in a Vintage 1930s Riley. Mark has a passion for old cars, and also happens to work within the IBM Messaging team at the Hursley labs. His passion for both set Mark on a path to connect IBM technology to his latest car endeavor, participation in the Tour de Cols. His trip began in the UK, continued down through France and on into Spain, all while taking in a number of peaks in the Pyrenees, from as far North as San Sebastien right down to Andorra. And he did it in a car built before modern-day computers even existed.

mapcharlotte, IBM Technology

It is not necessary to have a vast amount of automotive knowledge to imagine the technical difficulties that you could expect with a vehicle of such age. Using a mixture of IBM technology the mission was to connect two different worlds, the old and the new, to better predict when problems were likely to occur. By integrating modern technology into the vintage car and generating new data, it was possible to monitor the vehicle’s performance and visually represent this in a dashboard. The goal was to allow Mark to be more aware of when things could potentially go wrong, allowing him to react more quickly.

Adding the new to the old

  • The technology
  • Two cameras were attached to the vehicle to give a live feed of the road view and of the driver.
  • GPS sensors were added to the vehicle in order to cover the altitude in the mountains.
  • A Bluetooth sensor tag was included to read and record engine temperature.
  • Heart rate monitoring was connected via Bluetooth.

All of the data attained from the sources above was transmitted to a Freescale box (an IoT gateway) in the vehicle.

A technology called MQTT (MQ Telemetry Transport) sat within the Freescale box making it possible to pass and process both graphical and numerical data over a mobile phone network to an IoT foundation on IBM Bluemix. Mark used the data to track his trip and the car, allowing him to monitor metrics such as altitude, speed, journey time, waypoint setting, heart rate, weather prediction and engine temperature using a mobile phone.

Using Bluemix, IBM’s cloud platform for building, running, and managing apps and services, made storage of data on a public cloud possible. That meant that the data was also available for Mark’s friends and family so that they could access and track his journey. In addition, permanent storage offered by Bluemix allowed Mark to store past data to better plan future trips.

Benefits of new technology

In an older car that doesn’t run on newer electronics, with important data that isn’t already connected to a computer, having a way to gather more information is key to being proactive about your own safety and the health of the vehicle. This project is just one example of how IBM is pushing boundaries using technology to help predict issues before they arise. These solutions which merge data integration, capture and analysis, have the potential to be applied to a wide variety of industries to help prevent create new insight and opportunities.

charlottecar, IBM Technology

Why not try IBM MQ, Bluemix and IoT for yourself?

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