Wolfram bids to make the Internet of Things actually work


If the Internet of Things is ever going to realize its true potential, then all of our connected gizmos, gadgets and sensors are going to need to speak the same language at some point.

Wolfram, which runs the Wolfram Alpha computational search engine and is already familiar with Big Data sets, is a logical choice to help further that cause. To that end, the company’s announced that it’s making a play to help create that language. Founder Stephen Wolfram revealed that he’s working to integrate the Wolfram Language, which is designed to help analyze and process data, with Intel’s new SD card-size computer, known as Edison, which in turn has been designed for use with smaller gadgets and wearable tech.

For those who don’t know what the Wolfram Language is, well it was recently described by the man himself as his “most important project”. Basically it’s designed to be an easy-to-use programming language that allows people to “describe and compute about things in the world”. But according to the British scientist, the Wolfram Language won’t be enough, as we’ll also need a way to “measure and interface” with the Internet of Things.

To do so, he’s also rolling out what’s called the Wolfram Connected Devices Project, which will serve as a huge database of connected devices including GPS trackers and heart monitors, keeping tabs on their size, specifications and costs. According to Wolfram, the data is designed to be computable, and will be accessible through the company’s Wolfram Alpha search engine, allowing people to search for and compare devices according to their size, price, weight and other variables.

Currently, there’s already several thousand devices on the database, and Wolfram hopes that this number will grow “quite rapidly” this year. To spur this growth, the company’s also introducing the Wolfram Data Framework, or WDF, which Wolfram claims is the “most complete system for handling physical quantities and their units.”

The Wolfram Connected Devices Project aims to catalog the Internet of Things

The WDF details thousands of different physical qualities, including length and torque, and contains over 10,000 measurements. This data can all be analyzed using the Wolfram Data Science Platform, currently under development, which will let users visualize that data with “all the sophistication of the Wolfram Language”.

In his blog post, Wolfram admits that the line between “components” and “devices” is somewhat blurred, but he attempts to define it as follows:

“If it measures some physical quantity, and can be connected to a general-purpose computer using some standard connector or connection technology,” then Wolfram considers it to be a ‘connected device’.

Wolfram’s end goal is to see that all of the devices and gizmos that make up the Internet of Things are “seamlessly integrated” with the Wolfram Language. He envisions a future where every connected device will be able to communicate with every other device via some kind of “small, embeddable computer system”. As such, cataloging all of those devices within the Connected Devices Project is just the first step towards that goal.