IBM middleware interprets data from RFID sensors

IBM on Tuesday introduced middleware that can gather data from a wide variety of networked sensors, analyze it, and feed it into other enterprise applications that can also use the data to make decisions.

WebSphere Sensor Events is designed to help organizations derive value from the many sensors that are now available and in many cases already deployed in factories, offices and other settings. Those sensors have proliferated in recent years, especially with the advent of RFID (radio frequency identification) tags, which can be attached to products in transit or to corporate assets such as computers and hard drives.

Other sensors such as thermometers and electricity meters can also provide real-time information that can trigger actions or warnings.

WebSphere Sensor Events is a tool for interpreting that data, as well as making it available to software such as IBM’s Cognos and Smart Analytics System platforms. It can also provide the information to third-party applications including enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management, said Brian Dalgetty, director of sensor solutions development at IBM.

IBM has sold WebSphere Sensor Events software for several years, but that package is focused mainly on collecting and filtering data. With the new WebSphere Sensor Events, it has added complex event processing (CEP) technology it acquired through its purchase last year of AptSoft, plus business process and events management features from WebSphere and Tivoli. CEP software can analyze large amounts of data in real time to identify events that may affect a business, such as fraud in a set of transactions. It can then trigger a response to that event.

The company has also brought to bear the lessons it has learned over the past few years in integrating sensor systems for more than 70 customers around the world, and tools developed for those engagements are included in the WebSphere Sensor Events package, Dalgetty said.

WebSphere Sensor Events can be used with RFID tags or barcodes for asset tracking in applications such as shipping and data-centre management. It can also bring together other types of data, such as temperature, Dalgetty said. For example, food products can be tracked from farm to supermarket using RFID and GPS (Global Positioning System), plus temperature data to ensure freshness, he said.

WebSphere Sensor Events is available now for Microsoft Windows and SUSE and Red Hat Linux. Prices start at US$20,000 for a single-site implementation and $150,000 for an unlimited-site version, which is priced according to the processing power an enterprise applies to it.

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