Irish R&D gems amongst most sought-after IBM tech

29 Jan 2008

Three key pieces of technology that are among the fruits of IBM’s research labs in Dublin have emerged as technologies exciting commercial interest from major corporations, including BMW, Wachovia Bank, Lloyds TSB, the New York Times, Thompson Scientific and Procter & Gamble.

The senior team behind AlphaWorks at IBM were in Dublin yesterday to provide a briefing to students and researchers at UCD.

AlphaWorks is tasked with scouting the world to see if technologies being developed in Big Blue’s research labs may have commercial success before being contributed to the open source community.

AlphaWorks is used by Irish developers, businesses and universities to access emerging technologies from IBM R&D labs, creating a collaborative environment between those labs and the outside world.

It has served as a technological launch pad for businesses, developers and universities, ushering in emerging technologies, standards and trends that have helped shape the technology landscape.

Laura Bennett, a senior manager with AlphaWorks, told that three key technologies developed in Dublin are among the most popular pieces of R&D to emerge from the IBM labs to date.

These include ThinkPlace, a web application for facilitating idea collaboration. “Users can come in to discuss and share new ideas. This has been used by major corporations to discuss ideas around corporate social responsibility and also to rate ideas on the best ways to resolve poverty in Africa,” Bennett explained.

Bennett said the ThinkPlace Web 2.0 application has been deployed internally at car manufacturer BMW, as well as the US banking chain, Bank of Wachovia.

Another technology, code-named ManyEyes, combines information visualisation with social networking software. “The idea is you can upload data sets and share with other users to understand trends coming out of those various data sets,” Bennett said.

She explained that ManyEyes has already received commercial interest from Lloyds TSB, the New York Times and Proctor & Gamble.

The final piece of Irish-developed technology, QEDWiki, is a powerful browser for building mash-ups and situational applications. It provides both web users and developers with a single web application framework for hosting and developing a broad range of Web 2.0 applications, Bennett explained.

The QEDWiki technology has excited interest from Thompson Scientific and banking giant Sun Corp.

By John Kennedy