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IBM games highlight benefits of 'Smarter Planet'

Experiential exhibit at Disney's Epcot theme park in Florida highlights technology's contributions to solving global problems--and Big Blue's role.

Runtime game
Runtime, a game by Disney that's part of IBM's experiential exhibit at Epcot Center, lets players run, jump, and dance through a time line of IBM's computing achievements. IBM

People don't usually associate IBM with video games, but a couple of interactive games now rigged up at Florida's Epcot theme park have Big Blue's stamp all over them. They're part of the revised "Smarter Planet," an experiential exhibit aimed at highlighting how technology is helping to ease global problems such as road traffic, city crime, and subpar local water supplies.

Through one "match" game, guests will discover that more than 2 billion people are using mobile phones to open and use bank accounts for the first time; or that only 11 percent of the United States money supply is cash; or that by unplugging household appliances while not in use homeowners can save cash, up to $286 every year. From the same kiosks, guests can take a poll and compare their answers with those of other visitors.

Another game, called Runtime and created by Disney, lets players personalize their avatars and run, jump, and dance through a computing time line that journeys through the Babbage computer all the way to the Internet, spotlighting IBM's achievements along the way. Guests can also e-mail their personalized version of the game to any computer in case they want to dance through the evolution of the ThinkPad at home.

The exhibit--which opened Friday and runs indefinitely--is powered by an IBM Smarter Data Center, part of the company's larger Smarter Planet initiative aimed at marketing green solutions to world problems. The campaign includes creating data centers equipped with highly optimized servers, storage, switches, and smart software to reduce companies' energy costs (up to 25 percent, IBM says).

Data center geeks attending the Epcot exhibit can also go inside the data center to see a demonstration of IBM Cloudburst, a scalable compute model that lets a data center rapidly deploy a workload.

In addition to powering the Epcot exhibit, the Smarter Data Center will donate unused computing resources to the World Community Grid, a distributed-computing project that harnesses idle computer time to assist research for Muscular Dystrophy, cancer, AIDS, and other medical and environmental causes.

Smart Planet exhibit
Visitors to the Smarter Planet exhibit at Epcot theme park can have a look inside an IBM scalable modular data center. IBM