Three years ago, Google's Eric Schmidt announced that every two days, more information is created than was the case from the dawn of humanity up to 2003. According to IMS Research, by 2020 web-connected devices will create 2.5 quintillion bytes of information every day, with 22 billion internet of things devices up-belching information to the web. To marshal all that data, IBM has come up with a platform it calls MessageSight, which will allow any one organization to pool information from up to a million sensors and devices, at a rate of 13 million messages per second.
If this sounds detrimental to the signal-to-noise ratio of the web, consider that this data will be largely hidden from view, and potentially useful. How the data is put to use is another question, and with MessageSight, IBM's emphasis is on business. "This enables large volumes of events to be processed in near real time," says IBM, "allowing organizations to consolidate all of the information in one place and more easily glean insights to make better business decisions." Makes sense.
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Perhaps more telling is IBM's illustrative example of how this might work. Here it turns to the automotive industry, which is a natural choice given the wealth of data modern cars are able to gather. IBM puts it like this:
"... an automotive manufacturer can use IBM MessageSight to help manage the features and services of its automobiles. With thousands of sensors in each car, a dealer can now be notified when a 'check engine' light turns on in a specific car. Based on the information transmitted by the engine sensor, the dealer could then notify the owner that there is a critical problem and they should get their car serviced immediately."
Though it's possible to read too much into what is an illustrative example, it's nevertheless suggestive of a corporate take on the internet of things. There's no reason at all why smart, connected devices shouldn't empower individuals and businesses, so long as they do not simultaneously disempower their customers. It's presumably the motorist who has paid for those thousands of sensors, and so it seems reasonable that the car should do its reporting to the owner, and not the local dealership.
Still, hopefully this is just an underwhelming example of the potential big data has to improve the lives of everyone, and not merely encourage us to spend more money.