Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Monday, August 8, 2022

GE Makes Splash With Data Deals 


Add machine-learning specialist and data ingestion platform vendor Bit Stew Systems to the list of acquisitions by GE Digital, which also this week released an operating system for the industrial Internet designed to extend its Predix technology stack.

For starters, the industrial giant (NYSE: GE) announced it was buying, the machine learning algorithm developer co-founded by University of California at Berkeley astrophysics professor Joshua Bloom. The startup's machine learning technology would beef up GE's mainstay Predix platform by reducing overreliance on algorithmic toolkits with industrial-grade intelligent systems that can support enterprise applications.

The acquisitions allow GE to add machine learning and data ingestion tools to its Predix platform used, for example, to collect data from physical and virtual sensors to gauge the performance of industrial equipment or jet engines.

"Connected machines, coupled with deep machine learning, are more powerful than anything we have seen," GE Digital CEO Bill Ruh stressed in a statement announcing the deals, the financial terms of which were not disclosed.

Added CEO Jeff Erhardt in a blog post: "There is tremendous untapped value in the repetitive, mundane workflows that exist everywhere in business, and that tightly coupled access to the underlying data sources is crucial to automating these workflows in a robust and scalable way."

Meanwhile, the Bit Stew acquisition is intended to boost the Predix platform's ability to integrate data in motion from the network edge to the cloud, GE said. The company expects about 20,000 developers to be working on the industrial platform by the end of this year. In response, it also this week released a suite of software and applications "designed to get Predix in the hands of operators, business analysts and other users in non-technical roles."

Along with expanding the platform, GE said it would scale development of a monitoring tool called Digital Twins designed to provide visualizations of physical assets within industrial infrastructure. Ultimately, the release of new Predix applications and toolkits would expand the company's industrial customer base while extending "the cloud to the edge—or to the machines," it noted.

The latest GE acquisitions follow its announcement earlier this week to buy cloud services provider ServiceMax for $915 million.

The moves also underscore how the industrial Internet of Things is at the forefront of connecting sensors and machines to sweep up vast amounts of data that can be used to gauge performance, schedule maintenance and generally boost industrial capacity utilization.

As GE loads up with connected machine technology, other industrial giants such as Siemens and Bosch have been working with networking and chip vendors such as Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) on open network interfaces and platforms required to expand industrial IoT frameworks.

Meanwhile, market watchers such as IHS (NASDAQ: INFO) have accurately declared data analytics a "long-term play" in the nascent IoT market that is being lead by the industrial sector.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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