IBM introduced a new open source development tool today called Quarks, which is supposed to help manufacturers and programmers develop efficient applications based on Internet of Things (IoT) sensor data.
Quarks is actually based on the IBM Streams product, a proprietary enterprise tool for processing large amounts of live data, but it’s been designed from the ground up to offer programmers and manufacturers an open source tool for building applications on top of connected devices. The idea is to provide a way for them to take advantage of live data coming off the devices in a simple, efficient way.
For example, you could track the health of a diabetic using a wearable device or the well-being of an employee working in a mine or on an oil rig wearing a helmet fitted with sensors.
Each of these scenarios and many more like them involve monitoring data at the sensor level, then accessing and communicating that data in real time to people (or other devices) who might need information immediately. For instance, when a sensor on a miner’s safety helmet signals an unsafe condition, they need to know about it instantly. There can’t be a lag while the device communicates to a larger enterprise database and compares it with other data.
While these programs could facilitate rapid device to device or device to human communication, it doesn’t have to end there. They could also potentially communicate this information to the enterprise for a broader comparison of information across similar devices over time.
In a medical device scenario, researchers could see how a group of people react to a treatment regimen over time, or the patient’s doctor could receive data on a regular basis to track a patient’s overall health.
This could potentially even link to Watson Health, which could review the corpus of data on the medical condition being measured and offer feedback to the patient or doctor as appropriate about the proper course of treatment.
For now, Quarks is just getting started, but IBM hopes to build a community of involved companies and programmers. The company’s goal is that over time this open source community will catch on and that this development tool becomes a standard way of building application for this type of IoT scenario.
It’s worth noting that earlier this month, Cisco bought Jasper Technologies for $1.4 billion, specifically because it was looking for an enterprise level Internet of Things solution in the cloud. This shows that IBM is clearly not alone among large technology companies in recognizing that finding ways to capture, store and process IoT data is going to be big business moving forward.
IBM is releasing Quarks as part of a broader strategy to grab a piece of that business. Time will tell whether this particular open source tool will catch on or not, but it’s worth noting that IBM has submitted a proposal to the Apache Foundation for Quarks to be an incubation project as a way of pushing that along.