IBM Innovates with PodSmart
I love innovation and am always interested in how companies innovate (the company I work for hasn't yet adopted this tenet). Gillian is at our lakehouse, relaxing, surfing the net and came across the following article from Dublin's Sunday Tribune, August 8, 2007. Imagine a few interns join your team for the summer and come up with an idea. How would your company react? Embrace their idea or blow it off? Well Big Blue isn't blowing it off. Big Blue is not the IBM I left in the 1990's. They get it. They are innovators.
STUDENTS on work experience in IBM's Dublin innovation lab have come up with a new way of reading your emails, checking your digital diary, and perusing your favourite online news feeds all on the move.It's no wonder IBM's stock is up 42% this past year. I expect it to continue to do well with decisions like this.
It's called PodSmart, and it works by translating all the above information into audio files to be listened to on a digital player or mobile phone.
IBM likes the text-to-speech personal podcasting idea so much it's planning to incorporate the technology into the latest edition of its new office productivity suite, Lotus Notes 8, and is sharing the patents with Irish students Edward Mackle, Keith Pilson, Declan Tarrant and Eamon Phelan who came up with the "corporate mashup".
"This is like creating your own personal radio station to listen to on the way to work in the car or on the train, " says IBM software architect and project manager Michael Roche. "Instead of listening to Today FM or Radio 1, you can listen to a programme telling you your calendar appointments for the day, email summary, the list of contacts you'll need, internet and internal company newsfeeds, and whether anyone on your Bebo or LinkedIn watchlist published anything overnight . . . all interspersed with your own music."
The java-based PodSmart application can be customised to read web-based emails and calendars. The user connects her MP3 player to a computer and uses the PodSmart software to automate which data she wants transferred into audio files and sent to the music device. This action can be timed so newsfeeds and email summaries may be copied across to an iPod or other MP3 player minutes before picking it up and leaving the house for work.
Although voice server technologies have been around for a while, IBM claims there's nothing like PodSmart on the market right now, and its use of tagging . . . semantically searchable notes attached to files the same way a music file has artist, date, and album information affixed . . . makes its approach more familiar and easier to use, such as skipping unwanted messages. The readback voice is personalised rather than a monotonous 'Stephen Hawking' voice, and IBM is also working on translation software that will read out, say, a Spanish email in English and vice versa.
Roche says IBM is planning for new uses of technology in the workplace.
"What we're seeing is 20year-olds coming into the workforce who are not happy doing things the traditional way. These people have grown up through a connected world and workplace collaborative technologies have to reflect that. User interfaces will have to be more functional and user-friendly than old ways of doing email and collaborative technology. They're saying things like: 'why should my online social network stop at the doorstep of the office?'" IBM's open source approach to software development means it is likely to open up its Lotus and PodSmart products to external software developers to tinker with RSS feeds, Atomfeeds, and Instant Messenger integration for PodSmart.
The next step for IBM will be making its PodSmart technology 'live', so that handheld devices with wi-fi or 3G connectivity can connect to mail servers on the go and read back emails or news feeds as they are received on the host account
The Sacramento Executive