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Calling all IBM volunteers at #BTYSTE to share experiences January 9, 2012

Posted by Kristina O'Regan in Uncategorized.
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Could I ask all IBM volunteers helping out at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2012 to share their experiences by leaving comments on this entry.

If you are Tweeting about the event, please use the hashtag #BTYSTE and @IBM_in_Ireland and please do Tweet!

Also be sure to post on the IBM in Ireland Facebook page.


Tag, you’re it! You can’t hide from RFID January 3, 2012

Posted by Kristina O'Regan in IBM, Innovation, Intelligence, Smarter Buildings, Smarter Cities, Smarter Enegry, Smarter Healthcare, Smarter Transport, Uncategorized.
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Visit the IBM stand and participate in our RFID activity – Tag your it!!

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a tracking technology that is used to uniquely identify and track specific objects. RFID uses radio waves to transfer data from an electronic tag, called RFID tag or label to an RFID reader and this data is then used to identify the object the tag is attached to. The RFID tag is interrogated by an RFID reader for the purpose of identifying and tracking the object the tag is attached to. Some RFID tags can be read from several meters away and beyond the line of sight of the reader (e.g. inside a box). The application of bulk reading of tags enables an almost-parallel reading of tags where tens or hundreds of tags can be read parallel. The tag’s information is stored electronically in circuitry on the RFID tag. The RFID tag includes a small RF transmitter and receiver. An RFID reader transmits an encoded radio signal to interrogate the tag. The tag receives the message and responds with its identification information.  Many RFID tags do not use a battery. Instead, the tag uses the radio energy transmitted by the reader as its energy source to broadcast the tags data.

Definition of RFID->

Traceability and types of RFID->

IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative, adds intelligence to everything from industrial supply chains to municipal traffic systems, and takes advantage of the increasing numbers of RFID tags and sensors that are rapidly being added to physical infrastructure. “This combination of real-time data, location-based data and domain-based analytics is very powerful.”

Read more->

Examples where RFID is being used:

Smarter Healthcare and RFID

Everyone has heard about tragic wrong-site, wrong-patient and wrong-procedure surgeries. Using an RFID tag attached to a patient, a healthcare provider can now verify the correct patient, procedure and site – prior to the start of any invasive surgery.

Patients may also be tracked in a hospital real-time. This can allow patients requiring special attention to be tracked continuously. Healthcare providers can use the RFID system to easily locate patient and increase their productivity on rounds.

  • Ensures greater patient safety and accurate patient identification at the point-of-care
  • Improves medication administration helping to reduce medication errors
  • Provides asset tracking capabilities to reduce operational, inventory and labour costs
  • Provides a simple tracking solution of medical supplies from the factory to storage shelves, enabling efficient inventory management

IBM is now leading the way in the development and integration of custom RFID solutions to provide dramatic benefits for healthcare providers, caregivers and patients – as well as healthcare insurers, pharmaceutical and medical manufacturers.

Find out more->

Smarter Parking:

IBM and Streetline, Inc. are collaborating to help cities of all sizes reduce congestion, better manage parking availability and resources and put information at people’s fingertips to find parking faster.

IBM is partnering with parking technology firm Streetline to create a RFID enabled solution.  Their solution is embedding magnetic sensors within each parking space. This sensor can detect whether a car is above it or not. RFID technology then relays this information to a reader/repeater. These repeaters are placed on light poles and other stationary objects throughout the designated city area. The information is then transformed into a usable format and sent to end users.

This system correlates with Streetline’s Iphone application “Parker” which will graphically display where parking is available. The system can also be used in parking garages both to measure how long a car has been there, as well as directing newcomers to available spots.

Parking seems to be the new trend as a similar RFID enabled product rolls out for corporate parking lots. A RFID tag carried by the employee can be read from within the car and will open the front gate. A screen will also direct the newcomer to an available parking spot. This system, however, allows the tag to be taken with the employee. So if they are coming in the early morning with minimal lighting, RFID enabled lights will guide them to the building. If they cannot remember where the car was left, they can hold the tag near a screen (by the main entrance) and be shown the exact location of their vehicle.

Read more->

Press Release->


Washable RFID Tags track linen in hotels

Linen Technology Tracking and software specialist Fluensee. The intelligence of the product, called “Linentracker,” uses LTT’s SMARTtags and runs on Fluensee’s supply chain management platform.

Why the Big Brother approach? Simple: in the hospitality industry, one of the largest expenses of room occupancy is the growing cost of linen supplies — but until now, hotels are in the dark with regard to where those assets are, both when they’re in the hands of customers and when they’re being laundered by outside vendors.

Here’s how it works: each asset is scanned and monitored to and from the laundry, in and out of linen closets, at various check-in or check-out stations, down laundry chutes and even at pool and beach kiosks. AssetTrack monitors everything in real time, then offers insights via its reporting and analytics engine.

Learn more->

Smarter Food:
Technology is shaping how it grows, how it tastes and how it gets to your plate.
The food traceability framework from IBM takes an instrumented approach to your supply chain, as each asset is assigned a unique identifier. This could be a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag assigned to an animal, a barcode assigned to a package or an ID that represents the acre on which a crop was grown.

Find out more->

What is Watson? December 28, 2011

Posted by bodonovan in IBM, Innovation, Watson.
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One of the exhibits at our stand this year will relate to the Watson system which has been making a big splash in the media. If you read some of these articles and wondered what all of the fuss is about this blog post attempts to explain what Watson is and why we thought it worth including on our stand.

In recent years, IBM researchers have made great advances in building question answering systems and they decided to build a system which could take on a high profile challenge that the general public could understand to prove how far the technology has advanced. They gave their system the nickname Watson after Thomas J. Watson the founder of IBM. The target they chose was to compete in the Jeopardy! game show because:

  1. This game show is very popular in the Unites States and has been a popular show over several decades. As a result most members of the public know the rules of the game and appreciate how difficult it would be for a machine to compete in. Unfortunately the game is not shown on television in Ireland so people might need to check out the Wikipedia page about the game to learn about it.
  2. Unlike a traditional quiz where contestants have to provide and answer to a clear question, Jeopardy! contestants are presented with answers and in order to win they must know what is the corresponding question. Sometimes there are several questions which to which the same answer could be given and contestants are expected to use common sense to judge which question is the one being looked for (e.g. if the answer was “5,280”, the question they want would be “How many feet in a mile?” and not “What is 330 multiplied by 16?”). Teaching common sense to computers is notoriously difficult.
  3. Watson bases its reasoning on a huge bank of information including sources such as Wikipedia. Much of this information is written in normal English text which can often be ambiguous and contradictory. In the Jeopardy! game you lose points for giving an incorrect question, so Watson needs to calculate how confident it is that it has found the correct question before pressing the buzzer.

IBM was delighted when Watson beat two past champions in a televised live game. However, we did not invest all this money simply to develop a system capable of winning a TV game show. We believe that the technical advances that we made as part of the Watson project can be applied to other real world problems and we have established a new division that is currently building such systems. Part of this team is based in IBM’s research lab on the outskirts of Dublin and perhaps some of the Young Scientists might work in this division in the future.

If you are interested in learning more, you can view the video below or even better you can come visit our stand and try out the system yourself and ask our staff questions about how it works.

What is Scratch? Find out more at our IBM Stand at BTYSTE December 20, 2011

Posted by Kristina O'Regan in IBM, Innovation, open-source, Uncategorized.
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What is Scratch?

Scratch is an application that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web.

As young people create and share Scratch projects, they learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.

Scratch provides a simple drawing tool to allow you create characters, backgrounds or anything you can imagine.  It also provides simple drag and drop programming tools to allow you make you characters come alive.

Find out more about “Scratch” by visiting their website->

60 IBMer’s preparing for BTYSTE 2012 December 14, 2011

Posted by Kristina O'Regan in IBM, Innovation, Intelligence, Watson.
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IBM in Ireland are gearing up for BTYSE 2012 with 60 IBM volunteers ready to meet visitors at our stand.  The theme of our stand is “The Evolution of Technology.”

We are celebrating 100 years of innovation! IBM is constantly challenging itself to do what many think is impossible. This vision is leading our engineers and scientists to invent many of the building blocks of modern business and Information Technology. IBM has created 100 Icons of Progress which you can read about on our Centennial portal.  IBMer’s have also marked our centennial through a “Celebration of Service” by volunteering and giving back to their communities around the globe.

Visit us at Stand 26B and see how technology is evolving from those early innovations to ‘Watson’ – a scientific breakthrough in solving ‘natural language’ questions and winner of the Jeopardy! a U.S. quiz show.

IBM today is using this technology to make our world work smarter, by connecting the systems that run our world, and analysing the data from those systems, we have new ways of looking at information and can make smarter decisions as a result in healthcare, education and much more.

To find out more about IBM technology, create a QR code, develop a character using ‘Scratch’ , see RFID in action or to pit your wits against Watson visit on us Stand 26B.

Be sure to check our blog for the latest updates from guest bloggers and will fill you in on more details about our stand activities as we prepare for the big event.  Also follow us on:


IBM in Ireland Facebook page


Facts and Figures January 24, 2011

Posted by pollicia in Uncategorized.
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A visual representations of younger generations' points of view

Wordle: a visual representations of younger generations' points of view

Many people may not have been familiar with ‘word clouds’ before visiting our IBM stand at the BT Young Scientist: they probably are now. We used an anonymous questionnaire and an application called Wordle to get people thinking about Smarter Cities.

We asked them what could make schools, healthcare, transportation and the environment smarter. We also asked what skills would be needed in the future and what small steps could everyone take, to make our cities smarter. In doing so, we weren’t aiming for the publication of an official report. Our goal was to get a birds’ eye view of what younger generations think, in relation to the challenges our cities are facing.

The results were reassuring. Of all visitors to our stand, over 1,300 took the time to submit their views. Most of these were between 11 and 18 years of age. Here below are the top-rated answers.

Question: How can we make our schools smarter?
Top rated answers: more laptops, followed by e-books and online homework

Question: How can we make our healthcare smarter?
Top rated answers: instant lab analysis, followed by connected medical records and electronic records

Question: How can we make our transportation smarter?
Top rated answers: electric cars, followed by less CO2, parking finders and integrated public transport

Question: How can we make our environment smarter?
Top rated answers: green buildings, followed by water recycling and alternative energies

Question: What skills will be needed, to make our cities smarter?
Top rated answers: research, followed by engineering and I.T.

To the question ‘What could YOU do to make our cities smarter?’, we got a number of inspiring answers. ‘Usual suspects’ like saving energy, recycling, conserving water and reducing carbon emissions showed that younger generations are no strangers to the main challenges regarding energy and resources. Investing in skills was also a recurring thought, with a lot of students committing to study harder, pursue IT or scientific studies, enter next year’s BT Young Scientist, go to college… and even join IBM. Somebody with entrepreneurial spirit suggested they would set up an organisation to help make cities smarter in the future.

But in my view, the most encouraging part was the number of young people willing to ‘talk about it’, ‘put posters up in schools’ and ‘spread the word’. Here’s a generation who’s not only aware of today’s challenges, but also determined to take a stand and resolve them. Our future is in safe hands.

Student interview… as gaeilge! January 21, 2011

Posted by pollicia in Uncategorized.
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One of the students we interviewed last week was a fluent Irish speaker. With Italian, English and German under my belt, I always thought I was good at languages, but this time I was glad to be the one behind the camera. Fortunately Cormac, our interviewer, is also a fluent Irish speaker (or, as I am told, a “gaeilgeóir”), so all that was left for me to do was press the ‘record’ button.

Hope you enjoy!

P.S. To view this interview in English language (alongside all our other student interviews), check this previous blog post.

This year’s winners at BTYSTE – a testament to this country’s regenerative power January 21, 2011

Posted by macgabhc in Uncategorized.
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And so endeth this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition. In a cacophony of sounds and myriad of bright lights, the curtain was drawn on this year’s young pretenders. The old adage, as misused as it tends to be, holds true here that no one walked away a loser from this week’s trials and tribulations. All of the projects on show at the RDS this week are a testament to this country’s regenerative power, and the strength of our young students. They provided a clear break in an otherwise cloudy atmosphere and a genuine hope for Ireland’s future development.

There were, however, some very clear winners. We interviewed Alexander Amini from Castleknock College on Wednesday, and I was struck by his clear intelligence, but also the comfort with which he handled the issues he was treating. He certainly left me befuddled and wondering where I had wasted my youth. The ingenuity of his project is undoubted, but his ability to manipulate such advanced technologies is outstanding. He was a deserved winner and will indubitably go on to bigger things.

IBM were also awarding a prize during the competition. The eventual winners were Ailbhe Ní Mhóráin & Fiona O’Connor from Loreto College, Stephen’s Green. The award was aimed at highlighting the importance of IBM’s Smarter Planet vision and how technology can be used to improve our everyday lives and our urban environment. The girls’ project was aimed at measuring how rocky a given road is in order to improve our transport infrastructure. It is this creativity, coupled with a real desire to improve real-life issues, that displays the general aura surrounding the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition. These were all young people, engaging with their environments in a real way, identifying the issues and problems, and solving them.

It is impossible to know what the future will hold, even more so in these precarious times. Nevertheless, it is by displaying this same resourcefulness and originality that we can work our way out of our problems and maybe look to our youth for inspiration.

Video: Alexander Amini from Castleknock College shares how he felt after being named the BT Young Scientist of the year

Video: Ailbhe Ní Mhóráin & Fiona O’Connor from Loreto College, Stephen’s Green explain their “IBM Smarter Planet Award” winning project “How Rocky is Your Road”

A big thank you to our small ‘army’ of volunteers January 19, 2011

Posted by pollicia in Uncategorized.
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Deirdre Kennedy with some of our volunteers

Deirdre Kennedy with some of our volunteers

The BT Young Scientist may be over, but as we start to wind down activity on this blog until the next year, we can’t say goodbye without posting a huge thanks to our small ‘army’ of volunteers. From manning the stand, to brainstorming concepts for the stand and looking after the technical side of it, no job was too big or too small for them and their enthusiasm was truly contagious.

We had a team of approximately 60 volunteers from different nationalities, different walks of life and different IBM career paths. It was a recipe for success.

One of our volunteers, Claudio Procida, an Italian software developer working with Lotus social software, took the time to write a few paragraphs about his experience. In my view his account summarises an IBM volunteer’s experience pretty well, so I thought I’d add it at the bottom of this post, for everyone to enjoy. But first, I want to give you a flavour of some of the interesting characters we had in our volunteer team…

Gareth recently helped build a 1 Petabyte Database (1 million Gigabytes) at IBM in Dublin. David, now married with 2 little girls, once took part as a student in the BT Young Scientist Competition, back in 1994. Claudio himself, is passionate about technology, cooking and painting. Aleksandra has developed quite a fancy for playing golf. Amanda works on the LotusLive Sametime Unyte team within IBM Ireland. Before moving to Ireland to work for IBM, Alessandra had over 40 tortoises at her family home in Italy. Massimiliano studied aerospace engineering but then got involved into software development following a passion for technology.

A volunteer’s view: Claudio Procida

“My name is Claudio Procida and I am a software developer based at IBM’s Technology Campus in Dublin 15. I volunteered for the BT Young Scientist exhibition because I appreciate IBM’s commitment to bring students closer to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. I also generally like being involved into activities where the company exposes its public persona to the local community. I was assigned to man IBM’s stand on the BTYSTE’s last day, Saturday afternoon, between 1pm and 6pm. Attendance to IBM’s stand was massive, and varied. There were families with children, as well as individuals in technical positions interested into learning what IBM is doing today.

The days before, volunteers had been giving away frizbee to students coming to our stand. To help them in their journey across our Smarter Cities theme, visitors were also given a special ‘passport’ and invited to collect stickers by picking them up from IBM volunteers scattered around the exhibition hall. In return for a passport completed with all stickers, they’d get a bag of Smarter Cities pins. Well, this initiative was so successful that by the time I came to volunteer on Saturday, there weren’t any passports left… but we did keep giving out the pins 🙂

My colleagues Deirdre Kennedy and Brian O’Donovan were present at the stand for the entire afternoon and took most of the questions from visitors. I think I spoke to more than fifty people myself and everybody else did a great job to welcome the crowds of students coming to our stand.

I think it is very important that we promote IBM’s commitment to help build a Smarter Planet, I was surprised to learn that most of our visitors thought IBM is still making consumer PCs. Many didn’t know we are now a services company, and weren’t aware of our recent releases of groundbreaking social software and collaboration tools. We invited visitors to learn more about Smarter Cities by watching an interactive demo available on the laptops at our stand. People were also invited to fill in a questionnaire, sharing their views on how we can make our cities smarter in every way, from classroom activities, to interaction with General Practitioners, to daily commuting. Results were displayed live on a well visible screen. With little surprise, students were asking for more laptops for their classrooms, and online lab analysis results were popular among families. Overall, I think IBM’s presence at BTYSTE was a success, and I am looking forward to being involved in it next year again!”

Guest blogger: a teacher’s view January 19, 2011

Posted by pollicia in Uncategorized.
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During this year’s exhibition I had the pleasure of chatting with some teachers. I must confess that I probably hadn’t talked to a teacher since my school years and it was really inspiring to hear their views and see their dedication. I am very grateful that Mr Anthony Carolan, Physics and Maths teacher from Sligo, agreed to share his views with us. In this short video interview and blog post, Mr Carolan talks about his students’ projects, the BT Young Scientist experience and the important role an event such as this can play for a student’s future.

Blog post by Mr Anthony Carolan, Physics and Maths teacher, Sligo

“Well, another BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition has drawn to a close. I have just returned home after spending the last week with my 11 students and it is safe to say, they have had an experience they will fondly remember. All through the journey back to Sligo, there were stories being exchanged, jokes shared and the dawning that the experience had now passed. But mixed in with this reminiscing was a strong desire to now begin planning the next project.

This has been a recurring theme in my 5 years mentoring and attending this exhibition. First comes the idea, then the planning, then the panic to finish and perfect, followed by the excitement before going. Then it is a whirlwind 4 days of meeting new people, talking passionately about their interests and work, fine tuning their presentation skills and sharing their anxiety pre-judging.

The BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition is a unique event in the calendar where learning, fun and social interaction all congregate to create an atmosphere like no other. Apart from displaying your own hard work, you also pick up new ideas, meet like minded people and develop important professional project skills. My students have loved every minute of it and are already 1 day into next year’s project. That, to me is the best testimonial of the event. The students can’t wait to attend and don’t want it to end but in between they will put their heart and soul into developing the best project they can.

In addition to all of this professional and social development, there is also the highly important nature of what the future holds for these students. The pursuit of science and maths can only lead to success. Add into this the ability to prepare a project, research new data and present it to strangers and you have the makings of an intelligent and adaptable workforce. IBM knows this more than anyone. The sheer breadth of the company and its different career profiles shows that a life working in science in technology never gets boring and you end up working at something you love.

That is exactly what I observe every year with my students. They don’t mind the long hours pre-competition because they enjoy what they are doing, who they are working with and what they are achieving. It gives them a taste of the sort of life they want to keep going back to year after year.

So farewell to BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2011; but don’t worry; we will all be aiming to be back in just short of a year, again!!”