(This entry was posted on Innovation at HP Labs by Simon Firth, a freelance technology journalist)
HP is helping launch the era of cyber-physical systems, says Ravigopal Vennelakanti, HP Enterprise Services Distinguished Technologist and researcher at HP Labs.
“We’re starting by revolutionizing how we do seismic surveying,” he says, “but the sensing solutions that we’re creating at HP will eventually impact a wide variety of industries that interface with physical systems.”
That’s the message Vennelakanti and colleague Rich Friedrich took to the HP Discover 2012 expo in Las Vegas where their demonstration of HP Lab’s new Sensing Solution was one of the big draws at the HP Labs Pavilion.
“The CIOs who came by were intrigued,” he reports. “And I think they were impressed at how we’ve pulled together so many different parts of the company portfolio to create an end-to-end, innovation-led solution that really brings value to our customers and that, frankly, only HP can offer.”
In one use case for the technology, the HP Labs Sensing Solution developed in collaboration with an industry leader and other HP divisions places up to a million highly sensitive and compact accelerometers over a wide geographic area and then links them wirelessly to create a data-generating system of unprecedented scale and power.
“Initially, we’re using this to capture large scale data streams that can give us insights about the earth,” says Vennelakanti. “Our accelerometers are 1000 times more sensitive than other commonly used commercial accelerometers. By linking them together using HP’s converged infrastructure and then applying our game changing data analytics, we’re able to offer datasets that can provide much higher fidelity images of the underlying geology.”
That capability is increasingly attractive to energy companies as they look to exploit non-traditional reservoirs of oil and gas that are smaller, deeper underground, and resting in more complex geological formations than deposits that have already been found. Existing seismic sensing solutions are typically unable to reveal these deposits, while also being expensive to deploy and subject to high rates of error.
But the HP Labs Sensing Solution has many other potential uses, notes Vennelakanti.
“This really offers a compelling solution for any industry that needs to manage, maintain, and monitor physical systems,” he suggests. “We can see it being used to monitor transport infrastructures like bridges and highways; in healthcare, where a hospital could keep track of the health status of every patient in every bed in real time; and in power-grid infrastructure management, where energy providers could better match supply to demand.”
Vennelakanti and his HP Labs colleagues are looking to develop new kinds of sensors, better networking capabilities and data analytics that are optimized to track other kinds of physical systems.
“The CIOs at Discover were all asking about applications to their own industries,” says Vennelakanti. “They were excited at the possibilities here – and we’re excited to extend this technology to many other kinds of applications.”