IBM today announced that, for the first time, it will make its IBM Watson technology available as a development platform in the cloud, to enable a worldwide community of software application providers to build a new generation of apps infused with Watson’s cognitive computing intelligence.
The move aims to spur innovation and fuel a new ecosystem of entrepreneurial software application providers – ranging from start-ups and emerging, venture capital backed businesses to established players. Together with IBM, these business partners share a vision for creating a new class of cognitive applications that transform how businesses and consumers make decisions.
To bring this shared vision to life, IBM will be launching the IBM Watson Developers Cloud, a cloud-hosted marketplace where application providers of all sizes and industries will be able to tap into resources for developing Watson-powered apps. This will include a developer toolkit, educational materials and access to Watson’s application programming interface (API).
IBM partners that build Watson-powered apps in the cloud will be able to choose from two sources of data-driven content, to prepare their apps to uncover insights for users. App providers can use their own company’s data, or access the IBM Watson Content Store, featuring third-party content that offers data-rich resources that can fuel Watson’s ever expanding knowledge.
Watson improved since 2011
Watson is also now a dramatically smaller piece of hardware. The Jeopardy! implementation involved a 2,900 core system with 15TB of RAM. But now, a basic Watson configuration has been between 16 and 32 cores with 256GB of RAM, according to High. IBM can chain these smaller Watson boxes together as needed for greater scale, he added.
Other improvements include support for additional document types as well as the ability to recognize more elements within those documents, such as embedded tables. Watson can fine-tune the way it answers questions as well, High said.
Watson has gained a 240 percent improvement in system performance, and a reduction of 75 percent in the physical requirements needed to run the system which can now operate from a single Power 750 server with Linux from a cloud computing environment.
IBM is unveiling its new ecosystem vision with three business partners that have developed early versions of Watson-powered apps, targeted to enter the market in 2014:
Fluid: Fluid, which builds online shopping experiences for retail businesses to drive customer engagement and conversion, is developing the Fluid Expert Personal Shopper(sm) powered by IBM Watson. The app calls upon Watson’s ability to understand the nuances of human language and uncover answers from Big Data. Consumers who use Fluid’s app will interact with rich media and dialogue with Watson, as their newfound “cognitive, expert personal shopper.” The Fluid app incorporates the information users share and questions they ask to help them make smart, satisfying purchases by putting a knowledgeable sales associate in the hands of consumers, on demand.
MD Buyline: This provider of supply chain solutions for hospitals and healthcare systems is developing an app to allow clinical and financial users to make real-time, informed decisions about medical device purchases, to improve quality, value, outcomes and patient satisfaction. Hippocrates powered by IBM Watson will provide users with access to a helpful research assistant that provides fast, evidence based recommendations from a wealth of data, to help ensure medical organizations are making the best decisions for their physicians’ and patients’ needs.
Welltok: A pioneer in the emerging field of Social Health Management™, Welltok is developing an app that will create Intelligent Health Itineraries™ for consumers. These personalized itineraries, sponsored by health plans, health systems and health retailers, will include tailored activities, relevant content and condition management programs, and will reward users for engaging in healthy behaviors. Consumers who use Welltok’s app — CaféWell Concierge powered by IBM Watson – will participate in conversations about their health with Watson. By leveraging Watson’s ability to learn from every interaction, the app will offer insights tailored to each individual’s health needs.