At first glance, the Wolfram Connected Devices Project announced this week might not seem a big deal. But the database of ‘connected devices’ and their capabilities is only the first step in a much larger project, as CEO Stephen Wolfram laid out when introducing the project.
Collecting data about the capabilities of a connected is the first step. It’s a first step a year in the making, and by collecting information about every connected device the Wolfram database will have a large data set that it can answer questions on. Want to find out which smartphones between $250-$300 have LTE and a camera with more than 8 megapixel? This is the database, and (via Wolfram Alpha) the query engine for you.
Gathering this information from manufacturers, researchers, and the technical community, takes time and effort to stay up to date, but there is value in companies working with Wolfram on this. Once the Connected Devices Project knows about a device, the hope is that it can then start to pull in information from that device. Because once you have data, and the computational power to work with that data, then magical things are possible.
This is the same technique used by Wolfram Alpha. While it could be described as a search engine of knowledge, Wolfram Alpha computes the answer to a query not through analysing web links and traffic through pages, but by working with structured data and information sets. Users of Siri, Microsoft Bing, DuckDuckGo, Iris, and BlackBerry’s voice recognition software are all powered in part by Wolfram’s technology.
Now apply this to a world full of connected devices. Fitness trackers, wearable technology, GPS devices, personal weather stations, and countless other devices all pulling in data, all recognised and understood by the Wolfram Connected Devices Project. By pulling in data via the Wolfram Data Framework, Wolfram could bring a standard way of querying connected devices and working with the data generated.
That’s a big vision, and one that could have a major impact on computing as a whole over the next ten to twenty years. Look around DES and see the number of connected devices. Almost all of them are in their own silos. They may connect to a smartphone to have their data read, or upload it to a web server, but that’s the end of the road for the data. Allowing all that a data to be available in a common format, to be analysed and used via the Wolfram Language,
Step one is to start and build up the database (Wolfram points out “…we have a couple of thousand devices from about 300 companies.”), and from there start to expand the possibilities. Not surprisingly Wolfram is looking to the community, will be hosting Hackathons, and working with manufacturers to illustrate the potential of the Wolfram Connected Devices Project.
There’s not going to be an immediate result today. Or tomorrow. But in the near future, if Wolfram can follow through on the vision, then this database could be one of the defining moments in the world of connected devices.