Watson Apps Ready To Change The World
November 18, 2013 Dan Burger
The promise is that with technology comes change. The reality is that technology sometimes arrives alone. Cognitive computing, formerly known as artificial intelligence (old names are seldom used to market new ideas), is ready for its next chance at changing the world.
IBM‘s Watson, remembered for its Jeopardy! conquest, but so much smarter than that famous game show gladiator, is ready for another step into the spotlight.
Are you ready to make that step, too? Imagine cognitive computing–the capability to think things through and provide advice that is better than the best decision makers–as a development platform in the cloud. And then, imagine building a new generation of cognitive computing apps.
Software entrepreneurs, the line forms here, at the Watson Developers Cloud (WDC). IBM says it will make this worldwide community of software application providers a reality. The WDC includes a developer toolkit, educational materials, and access to Watson’s application programming interface (API).
It is available now.
IBM already partners with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and has developed a “Watson-powered” technology that helped MD Anderson’s physicians and researchers expand treatment options, match patients with clinical trials, and accelerate cancer discoveries.
There’s also the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor, an application that helps businesses engage with customers, by addressing questions, offering advice to guide purchase decisions, and troubleshooting problems. It is the first commercial offering developed in partnership with IBM Design, Big Blue’s newly formed design team.
Michael Rhodin, senior vice president, IBM Software Solutions Group, explained in a prepared statement, this program has a goal of nothing less than changing computing as we know it. “By sharing IBM Watson’s cognitive abilities with the world, we aim to fuel a new ecosystem that accelerates innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit,” he said. “With this move, IBM is taking a bold step to advance the new era of cognitive computing. Together with our partners we’ll spark a new class of applications that will learn from experience, improve with each interaction and outcome, and assist in solving the most complex questions facing the industry and society.”
Three IBM business partners have developed early versions of Watson-powered apps, targeted to enter the market in 2014.
Fluid, a company that builds online shopping experiences for retail businesses to drive customer engagement and conversion, is developing the Fluid Expert Personal Shopper. Watson’s capability to understand the nuances of human language and deduce answers from information users share and questions they ask with the result being a “cognitive, expert personal shopper.”
MD Buyline is a provider of supply chain software for healthcare systems. It is developing an app called Hippocrates (now there’s an old name attached to a new product) for clinical and financial users. Its purpose is to make real-time, informed decisions about medical device purchases by becoming a research assistant that provides fast, evidence-based recommendations.
Welltok, a pioneer in the emerging field of social health management, is developing an app that creates tailored activities, relevant content, and condition-management programs, and rewards users for modifying their behaviors in healthy ways. The plan is to have user converse with cognitive software that learns from the human interactions and will offer healthy advice.
“The significance here is that IBM will enable other companies, large and small, to embed access to Watson into their products and services, or better yet, to build applications on top of it,” said Mohamad Makhzoumi, partner at New Enterprise Associates and board member at Welltok. “This could bring about a paradigm shift not only in how people interact with computers, but in how we live our lives.”