IBM and AT&T last week announced plans to collaborate on the “Internet of Things,” a term for a connected network of devices.
The two companies plan to combine their technology to help cities and utilities analyze large volumes of data. A city government, for instance, might use the new systems to analyze commuter activity to better manage traffic, or respond more quickly to traffic emergencies.
“Smarter cities, cars, homes, machines and consumer devices will drive the growth of the Internet of Things along with the infrastructure that goes with them, unleashing a wave of new possibilities for gathering data, predictive analytics and automation,” Rick Qualman, vice president of strategy and business development at IBM, said in a statement.
Philips is piloting an advanced lighting system for grocery stores that can send signals to smartphone apps to tell shoppers where to find particular items.
A shopper looking for guacamole ingredients, for instance, would select them on the supermarket’s app, which would then plot a route based on the location of these items in the store. A transmitter in the light fixtures can keep tabs on a shopper’s location so the app could push discounts and offers based on which aisle the shopper is in.
“The beauty of the system is that retailers do not have to invest in additional infrastructure,’’ said Gerben van der Lugt, a manager at Philips Lighting. “The light fixtures themselves can communicate this information by virtue of their presence everywhere in the store.’’
The move could be a challenge to rival Apple’s iBeacon, a location-based service for apps. Qualcomm also began offering a similar service in December.