HANNOVER, Germany—Walk into CeBIT's Halle 16 on the massive grounds of the former Hannover World's Fair and you'll find yourself surrounded by what is perhaps the largest visualization of big data ever created.
There printed on a membrane that surrounds the interior of the 5,000-square-meter space (that's just under 54,000 square feet) are visualizations of big data expressed in graphical form, some of which is changing in real time.
The visualizations were created by a European design group headed by Reed Kram and Clemens Weisshaar, and they set the big data theme for the Code_n exhibitors in that building. Code_n is a global competition that looks for the best proposals for 50 innovative companies to be featured at CeBIT. This year, the innovators were to focus on the importance of data in driving the current IT revolution.
But the big data theme didn't stop with the innovators at Code_n. Big companies, which after all have been dealing with big data for a lot longer, were also showing their technologies.
The IBM Research labs in Haifa presented a global health care system that provides the data storage and services for collecting and handling data from a wide variety of devices, ranging from pedometers to sleep monitors to heart rate sensors. Once the data is fed into the cloud-based wellness database, it can perform analytics and produce individual reports. An IBM spokesperson told eWEEK that nearly any device that can communicate with the outside world can be part of the IBM Wellness network.
According to spokesperson Christine Paulus, the use of the data gathered by the connected devices could result in an exceptionally complete picture of the overall health of anyone who uses it. Paulus said IBM is planning to work with governments and insurance companies to use big data analysis to improve the health of people around the world.
The Internet of things, meanwhile, is the reason that big data sometimes gives way to big machines. Agricultural manufacturer Claas is showing a huge combine harvester that carries a full load of IT equipment which communicates with the tractors and trucks that serve it so that it can offload grain when it gets full, and report on soil conditions and crop yield. The computer equipment also steers the massive machine on a perfect course using GPS while the operator watches out for obstacles and impediments (farm hands, for example) that might slow it down.
Meanwhile, the information that the harvester gathers about yield and soil conditions is reported to the farm management system along with detailed data about the machine's location and time of day.