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.
Big Data, Internet of Things Take Center Stage at CeBIT 2014
This data along with data from other equipment can be used in conjunction with big data analytics to develop a plan for fertilization, crop rotation or predictions of future yields.
Deutsche Telekom is looking at connected devices on a much smaller scale, including a connected suitcase. The company is showing a series of connected luggage models that include an electronics one that can communicate with the outside world. The owner can communicate with the luggage using a smartphone to find out where it is after the airlines lose it. A GPS tracking device is included in the electronic module to make finding the location of the connected luggage even easier.
According to a spokesperson for DT, the luggage includes Transportation Security Agency-approved locks, which means that the government can still open it to snoop through your stuff, but when the luggage handlers break it open to steal your valuables prior to sending it to some other airport other than your actual destination, the luggage will alert you. This luggage, called Bag2go by DT, includes a display that can show a standard airline luggage tag. The luggage is made from high-strength steel and aircraft-grade aluminum, which should delay the acquisitive luggage handlers.
Big data and the Internet of things aren’t the only topics at this vast trade show. As you’d imagine, security is a hot button for people who feel threatened by U.S. intelligence practices since the revelations of former National Security Agency contract employee Edward Snowden. Products and services everywhere are being billed as being “Snowden Proof” or “NSA Proof.”
The NSA snooping was also a major discussion point at the CeBIT opening ceremonies, which featured speeches by both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron. Several observers told eWEEK that Snowden and his revelations have been major reasons for sudden growth in the European security industry. It’s one of the reasons Cameron said that London’s rapidly growing tech area is exploding at the rate that it is.
Snowden and the NSA aside, CeBIT is seeing a resurgence. This year the Hannover Messe folks who run the show decided to get rid of consumer products and services and focus entirely on business IT. Because of this, the television sets and washing machines are long gone, replaced by a much larger display area in more buildings.
The new corporate focus seems to be attracting a more professional set of attendees with a lot more money to spend. In addition, non-business attendees have been banished. The result is that the show has expanded both in terms of exhibit space and overall attendance. That’s good for CeBIT, but considering now many NSA proof products and services are being shown, maybe not so good for the NSA.