Real-world applications for IBM Bluemix

In part one of this article we saw how IBM is pushing technology to the limits of our very existence. In part two we will look at real-life applications for the space probe.

A team of students at the Imperial College of London collaborated with the IBM Hursley Innovation Centre to create a cognitive probe and launch it into the stratosphere. The team’s mission was to create a proof-of-concept based around helping first responders prepare for hazardous environments. With that objective the team built a cognitive probe to measure temperature, light, and movement, and be able to beam that data back to the IBM Internet of Things Lab, where these conditions could be recreated in a safe environment. This would allow first responders to safely prepare for the hazardous conditions that they would encounter. The other feature of this cognitive probe, is that it employed IBM Watson API’s to recognise its surroundings. This feature would be invaluable in identifying victims of an emergency that required assistance. By introducing the students to IBM Bluemix at the IBM Innovation Centre at Hursley, we showed them how the technology would enable them to build this cognitive functionality.

But how is IBM Bluemix able to do this?

IBM Bluemix: the cloud platform to accelerate innovation

IBM Bluemix enables you to quickly and easily create, deploy, and manage applications and enterprise-level services on the cloud, without you needing to know how to install or configure them. It’s truly awesome technology that:

  • Delivers scalable apps and APIs: power your apps and workloads with compute spanning from high-abstraction to high-control.
  • Leverages your existing IT: so you can take advantage of your existing apps, data and processes.
  • Provides a mobile backend: allowing you to build stunning mobile apps with backend infrastructure and powerful management.

In using Bluemix, the team was able to tap into a growing ecosystem of runtime frameworks and services, as well as accessing a dashboard where they could create, view, and manage their applications and monitor resource usage.

For developers: Bluemix further optimises the time spent creating cloud applications. You no longer have to be concerned about installing software or having to deal with virtual machine images or hardware. With a few clicks or keystrokes, you can provision instances of your applications with the necessary services to support them. This streamlining translates countless hours of setting up, configuring, and troubleshooting into time spent rapidly innovating and reacting to never-ending requirement changes.

For organisations: Bluemix provides a cloud platform that requires very little in-house technical know-how as well as cost savings. It provides the rapid development environment organisations need to react to users' demands for new features, as well as the elasticity and capacity flexibility organisations require when their applications explode in popularity.

For users: Bluemix represents the key that enables organisations to quickly deliver the features they demand.

Discover more about how Bluemix works.

A space probe in the real-world

The cognitive probe is still a prototype at this stage, so how might it develop and be applied to benefit our everyday lives?

First response
As was the students’ original intention, the space probe could be deployed to provide as much information as possible in advance to the emergency services attending a disaster, for example, after a train crash or event like the Fukushima nuclear disaster. First responders to the incident would be able to fully-assess the situation from afar without having to put themselves at risk in such a hazardous environment. It would enable them to do as much preparation and acclimatisation to the environment before they attended the scene in person.

Using the probe in this way would enable the emergency response teams to set up an intelligent environment (as was created in the IBM Innovation Centre Internet of Things Lab), where they could recreate the conditions to prepare in advance and practice drills, while the probe used its cognitive capability to identify those in need of immediate attention.

Monitoring natural disasters
This technology could also be applied to helping people in the event of a natural disaster. By using the probe, the emergency services could be provided real-time, cognitively enhanced data to support them in dealing with an emergency.

The prototype took a comparatively short time to build and launch, and as the proof-of-concept continues to be developed and commercialised, we expect the build-to-launch time to shorten, providing a quicker response time. In addition, depending on the configuration of the probe, it could stay aloft for extended periods of time, providing a real alternative to other monitoring options that require regular and costly refuelling.

This technology has the potential to make a very significant positive impact on industry. One example is agriculture, where using this technology, farmers would be able to monitor any surrounding risks to livestock and crops, such as flooding, and take appropriate and timely action.

Get involved

As you can see, the IBM Hursley Innovation Centre is committed to helping its partners innovate with the very latest technology, in order to make a positive impact on their industry. If you become an IBM business partner, we have the skills, knowledge, expertise and resources in-house to help bring your ideas to life, at no cost to you. So what are you waiting for?

Discover more about the IBM Innovation Centre at Hursley.