IBM launches software to spur sensor management, 'Internet of things'

Summary:IBM on Monday will roll out a software development kit for an application dubbed Mote Runner with the aim of spurring the adoption of sensors in various devices, products and systems.

IBM on Monday will roll out a software development kit for an application dubbed Mote Runner with the aim of spurring the adoption of sensors in various devices, products and systems. The real goal is to enable the so-called Internet of things by making sensor networks easier to deploy and manage.

Mote Runner is a free download. IBM will make the announcement at the 2010 Sensors Expo & Conference. The Mote Runner moniker refers to Mote's---or wireless sensor nodes---that gather information ranging from temperature, movement and light and refer back to a network.

Gallery: Mote Runner.

Meanwhile, MEMSIC, which makes these micro sensor systems, will include Mote Runner on one of its IRIS sensor. The MEMSIC IRIS is a 2.4 GHz wireless sensor mote (right) used for enabling low-power wireless sensor networks in buildings or traffic patterns at an intersection.

The moves come as the Internet of things has become a focal point of more businesses. For instance, telecom companies see enabling machines with wireless access as a growth market. These machine to machine connections may fuel future growth for a wireless industry that is nearing saturation in the U.S.

Toss in smart grids, appliances and homes and we're headed toward many interconnected devices carrying embedded software. IBM said it's moving to release Mote Runner as governments and companies are taking advantage of low-cost sensors to monitor buildings, business systems and other networks in a bid to garner real-time data that will help decision making.

How would this work? IBM said Mote Runner could be used by a building management company to monitor and analyze sensors in a high-rise. The company could then develop apps for the sensors, monitor equipment and data and reprogram them remotely as needed. These sensors could also be used to monitor the elderly in their homes. Agriculture, climate monitoring, health care and water systems could also make similar use of Mote Runner and a sensor network.

Among the key points about Mote Runner:

  • The software was created by IBM Research.
  • It's a low-footprint platform that can link standard languages like Java with sensor virtual machines.
  • Uses a simulation environment and Web dashboard based on Eclipse.
  • Mote Runner is designed to be a low power app running on an 8-bit processor, 8 KB of RAM and 64 KB of flash memory. That's the equivalent of what a PC operating system needed in the 1970s.

Here's a look at Mote Runner's dashboard:

Topics: Mobility, Browser, Hardware, IBM, Networking, Software, Wi-Fi

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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