Why can't you imagine this? One of these costs $130, off-the-shelf. They have eleven total, all around the world, which is $1430, off-the-shelf. Add in some more for the sensor setup etc ... maybe even double or triple it, if you're feeling generous. I imagine one guy can write a program that takes care of all of these. How much do your rack probes per data center cost? How much to install all of them? How much does the monitoring device cost?
Then, how long and how many people does it take to test them all regularly after they're installed? And how hard are they to install on an existing data center, vs dropping one of these on the floor, slapping some RFID stickers around, and walking away?
I imagine this is a trial run and IBM could probably come up with an even cheaper bulk solution if they need to. But it sure sounds like a lot less overall .. just the installation and maintenance probably makes it worth it, even if the price is more (which I doubt).