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Check out the 6 open source projects that I think will shape the future of tech in the coming years


2020 was a busy year for open source at IBM. While we’ve released a number of new projects this year that all have exciting potential, I wanted to highlight 6 new projects from IBM’s open source community that I think have the biggest potential to disrupt industries and make life easier for developers and tech users.

Fully Homomorphic Encryption Toolkits: Encrypt data in Mac and iOS apps while in use

Building security into the fabric of your applications no longer requires you to be an expert in cryptography. The open source IBM Fully Homomorphic Encryption Toolkits provide code and development environment settings that developers can use to compute on encrypted data and build security into the business logic of your applications. Right now, this tool is available for Mac and iOS. The toolkits synthesize 11 years of top-notch cryptography research into a streamlined initial developer experience that any developer can access and use.

Elyra: Extend JupyterLab UI to develop AI models

Whether you are just getting started in data science or are a seasoned data scientist, you are probably using the JupyterLab IDE to create data and AI models. We released the Elyra AI Toolkit, a set of open source AI-centric extensions to JupyterLab, to simplify the development of data science and AI models. Elyra offers support for machine learning workflow pipelines, Git versioning, code snippets, and much more.

Equal Access Toolkit: Develop with accessibility in mind from the start

Building accessibility into your website and applications is incredibly important for the 1 in 4 disabled adults who use your technology. Our open source Equal Access Toolkit and Checker gives developers and testers tools they can use to embed accessibility directly into their workflows. The project offers clear guidance about what’s needed at each stage of development, a prioritized breakdown of accessibility requirements at each stage, test automation, browser-based accessibility checking, and built-in help that supports learning exactly the right information, at exactly the right time.

Open Horizon: Enable autonomous management of more than 10,000 edge devices simultaneously

Edge computing brings computation and data storage closer to where data is created by people, places, and things. IBM’s Open Horizon project simplifies the job of getting the right applications and machine learning onto the right compute devices, and keeps those applications running and updated. With Open Horizon, you have the ability to add new capabilities to a single-purpose device, enable your device to use other services (both nearby and cloud-based) to enhance its existing capabilities, automate the hands-free management of workload lifecycle on the device, and automatically deploy applications to all devices where policies match and an agreement is negotiated – up to 10,000 devices by a single admin. IBM contributed Open Horizon to the LF Edge Foundation to ensure that the project’s growth is spurred by a diverse, collaborative ecosystem.

Qiskit: Quantum capabilities grow with hybrid quantum computing in mind

Although Qiskit isn’t new, we’ve added new capabilities this year to improve the Qiskit compiler, as well as upgrades that allow users to build richer and more advanced quantum circuits to run on both our simulators as well as our quantum hardware. Qiskit is continuing to roll out higher-level functionality that will allow users to explore potential applications for quantum devices, as we advanced toward a frictionless hybrid model of quantum computing over the cloud. This includes new optimization and chemistry modules, with other modules in the works.

Space projects: Using machine learning models and containers to deal with space junk and communication problems

While open source technology powers much of the world’s systems, new projects are now extending to outer space. The IBM Space Tech project recently released two new open source projects that solve common problems faced by space explorers. The Space Situational Awareness (SSA) project helps determine the trajectory of space junk using machine learning models. The Kubesat project is a cognitive autonomous framework that helps swarms of satellites communicate more efficiently.

Stay tuned for more innovation

With open source development at the core of what we do at IBM, it’s fair to say that next year’s innovations from IBM’s developers will be as transformative.