Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Friday, October 23, 2020
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IBM, Verizon Team on 5G for IoT 

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Responding to what they say is a wave of pandemic-driven automation, IBM and Verizon have announced an Internet of Things partnership that combines IBM’s AI, hybrid cloud and asset management tools with the wireless carrier’s 5G and edge computing technologies.

The partners said this week they will collaborate to deploy 5G wireless and edge computing for IoT and future Industry 4.0 deployments. The partnership combines low latency 5G networking and multi-access computing along with the wireless carrier’s “ThingSpace” IoT platform and an asset tracking system.

IBM (NYSE: IBM) will provide its Watson AI tools along with data analytics and its Maximo asset monitor. The combined IoT platform will be offered as a way to detect, diagnose and fix IoT glitches while monitoring “asset health” and provide near-real time predictive analytics on potential failures.

The partners said Thursday (July 16) they are also working on combining 5G and edge computing for an industrial application championed by IBM called “cognitive automation.” The AI framework would enable autonomous decision making, understanding natural language and handling scenarios that entail unstructured data and complex decision making, the company said.

For example, the system could generate an IT support ticket when database capacity is overtaxed. A script could then be used to execute frequent database checks, log-in to a ticketing tool to generate a support ticket.

The IoT collaboration also is promoted as enabling new industrial automation applications such as robotics, near-real time cognitive video analysis and other factory automation applications.

“The industrial sector is undergoing unprecedented transformation as companies begin to return to full-scale operations, aided by new technology to help reduce costs and increase productivity,” said Bob Lord, IBM’s senior vice president for cognitive applications, blockchain and ecosystems.

The collaboration with Verizon (NYSE: VZ) would “help industrial enterprises capitalize on joint solutions that are designed to be multicloud-ready, secured and scalable, from the datacenter all the way out to the enterprise edge,” Lord added.

IBM’s Maximo platform is a remote monitoring tool used to track the status of factory equipment and determine when maintenance is required. If equipment breaks down, the AI-based system is also designed to diagnose the cause, hastening repairs and reducing downtime.

Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon’s Business unit, added that the partnership would help industrial customers scale their automation efforts while boosting response times and reducing production costs.

Verizon’s multi-access edge computing architecture joins a growing list of edge deployments that seek to move processing out of datacenters and closer to where data is generated and stored. The combination of increased 5G bandwidth and reduced latency along with edge computing also is promoted as a way of relieving congestion within cellular networks expected to carry huge volumes of data generated by industrial and other IoT deployments.

The partners also said this week they plan to collaborate on other IoT and industrial applications ranging from worker safety and predictive maintenance to product quality and production automation.

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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