Wolfram Offers Data Analysis Stack to Device Makers

Banking on its deep expertise in mathematical analysis and visualization, Wolfram Research is extending its set of tools so they can be used by portable device manufacturers to offer richer, more interactive data to their users.

By Joab Jackson
Tue, January 07, 2014

IDG News Service (New York Bureau) — Banking on its deep expertise in mathematical analysis and visualization, Wolfram Research is extending its set of tools so they can be used by portable device manufacturers to offer richer, more interactive data to their users.

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Wolfram, makers of the widely-used Mathematica numerical analysis software, has launched a set of middleware that it hopes will serve as the lingua franca for the so-called Internet of Things.

"We've been interacting with many device manufacturers over the past year or so. And it's been very encouraging. Because it seems as if the technology stack we've been building all these years is exactly what people need," said Stephen Wolfram, founder and CEO of Wolfram Research, in a Monday blog post announcing the new initiative.

The new Wolfram Data Framework (WDF) can serve as a bridge between data-collecting electronic devices and desktop or cloud-based analytical services, according to the company.

Wolfram has also launched a directory of consumer and industrial devices that use the framework, called the Wolfram Connected Devices Project, which compiles the characteristics and specifications of each device in a structured database so they can be easily searched and compared.

Today, network-connected portable devices are being developed that generate an increasingly large amount of data on behalf of their users.

Think of a sports watch that monitors the user's heart rate, or a bathroom scale that communicates the user's weight to a nearby computer by WiFi.

Manufacturers themselves typically develop the software that displays and aggregates the information from their devices, with varying degrees of sophistication.

Wolfram has developed a set of tools to ease the job. While not traditionally thought of as a provider of tools to help develop mobile software, Wolfram nonetheless brings two distinct advantages to the market, both of which come from its extensive work on Mathematica, Wolfram asserted.

One advantage is the company's vast library for handling physical quantities and their units of measurement. The company has compiled nearly 10,000 units of measurement, covering almost everything any device could possible keep track of, such as length, time, acceleration, torque, or tensile strength, all in a wide variety of scales.

These measurements are all encapsulated in the company's WDF, which, according to Wolfram, "provides an immediate way to represent not just raw numbers from a device, but, say, images or geopositions -- or actual measured physical quantities." Using WDF could save much of the work of writing the conversion algorithms from scratch.

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