IBM Research expands, lab in good Scissorhands

IBM Research has opened a new China branch in Shanghai and took the opportunity to showcase some of the projects it is currently working on.

Scissorhands. It sounds like a character from a Hollywood flick but instead is the name of an IBM Research tool in the works that turns information contained in Web pages into live structured data.

The tool is effectively a cheat. With Scissorhands end users can select and then strip information that is residing in Web pages and turn them into reusable components. For example, a site owner wishing to display financial information on their site could highlight the Yahoo financial information on the Yahoo page and the tool would copy all the smarts and XML data from the Yahoo backend over to the new site. Alternatively, that extracted information can directly plug into businesses enterprise applications.

IBM has yet to commercialise the technology but it is one of the 50-odd demo projects it is working on in its new Shanghai research facility, opened on Monday.

The Shanghai lab joins IBM's "mother" lab in Beijing which has been operational since the mid 90s. The company has eight research labs around the world in places such Zurich, Watson in the US and Tokyo.

At the opening of the lab, the company demonstrated about 10 of the projects it is working on. Some focused on the virtual world, others on Web and mobile platforms for retailers, one on speech recognition technology that converts video to text, and several green IT initiatives.

Although IBM has labs worldwide, the director of the China Lab, Thomas Li, said projects are not worked on in isolation. "It is hard to have a single lab work on something big."

Of the projects that are worked on, he said about 80 percent realise their commercial potential.

IBM Research does not have an official Australian presence. However, it does have a Development Laboratory on the Gold Coast that is headed up by IBM Distinguished Engineer Glenn Wightwick.

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