IBM unveiled a US$200 million investment in a new global headquarters for its Watson Internet of Things (IoT) business in Munich today (4 October 2016). It also unveiled new IoT capabilities around Blockchain and security.
It also announced several deals with a number of clients, which are using Watson IoT technologies to draw insights from billions of sensors embedded in machines, cars, drones, ball bearings, pieces of equipment and even hospitals.
The new global Watson IoT headquarters in Munich is part of a global investment of US$3 billion designed to bring Watson cognitive computing to IoT. The investment, one of the company’s largest ever in Europe, is in response to escalating demand from customers who are looking to transform their operations using a combination of IoT and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies.
IBM reported that it has 6,000 clients globally who are tapping Watson IoT solutions and services - up from 4,000 just eight months ago.
The Watson IoT headquarters will also be home to the first ever cognitive IoT Collaboratories – hands-on industry labs where clients and partners can work together with IBM’s 1,000 Munich-based researchers, engineers, developers and business experts to drive collaborative innovation in the automotive, electronics, manufacturing, healthcare and insurance industries.
Together, they will tackle the toughest challenges of their respective industries; apply new concepts and technologies to build IoT solutions; develop and test new business models, solutions and services; and push the boundaries of what is possible with IoT, according to IBM.
“IBM is making tremendous strides to ensure that businesses around the world are able to take advantage of this incredible period of technological transformation and develop new products and services that really change people’s lives,” said Harriet Green, Global Head of IBM’s Watson IoT business.
“Germany is at the forefront of the Industry 4.0 initiative and by inviting our clients and partners to join us in Munich, we are opening up our talent and technologies to help deliver on the promise of IoT and establishing a global hotbed for collaborative innovation.”
Companies using IBM Watson IoT solutions
IBM highlighted three organisations that are currently demonstrating ‘real business outcomes through Watson IoT’. New engagements include:
Schaeffler is a German industrial heavyweight and one of the world’s leading automotive and industrial suppliers. It has signed a multi-year strategic partnership agreement with IBM to accelerate the digital transformation of its entire operations and customer solutions using Watson’s cognitive intelligence and insight from billions of sensors. Schaeffler’s goal is to be the world’s leading manufacturer of cognitive solutions which keep the world moving.
Tapping the connectivity and analytics capabilities of IBM’s cloud technologies and Watson IoT platform, Schaeffler will analyze huge amounts of data from millions of sensors and devices across its operations and provide insight to help it to be more flexible, make faster decisions and optimise the performance of equipment in the field.
Aerialtronics is a Netherlands-based designer and producer of unmanned aircraft systems for industry. It has announced the first commercial drones featuring cognitive computing capabilities from the IBM Watson IoT Platform on IBM Cloud.
Aerialtronics vehicles can provide high-quality inspection services for organisations across multiple industries, from monitoring city traffic patterns to inspecting wind turbines, oil rigs and cell tower optimisation (pictured).
Now, rather than climbing towers, inspecting key areas and reporting back findings, teams can deploy Aerialtronics drones from the ground and, through high definition cameras and Watson Visual Recognition analytics, immediately gain a complete 360-degree, high resolution overview while understanding what it’s seeing.
Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals in the USA has three facilities with more than 900 acute care beds and is part of Jefferson Health located in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is working with IBM to launch cognitive hospital rooms powered by IBM Watson IoT, which enhance the patient experience and help bring deeper levels of personalised, agile and responsive care.
With the ability to interact with in-room speakers that are connected to the IBM Watson IoT Platform, patients can take control over their hospital stay and the overall experience, for example, operating lights, window blinds, asking questions about hospital facilities or even getting background information on their physician.
New IBM Watson IoT offerings
IBM is also introducing a number of new offerings for IoT customers and developers:
Watson IoT and Blockchain: a new capability that connects IoT data to Blockchain through the IBM Watson IoT Platform. Businesses can share IoT data in a secure, private blockchain to reduce the costs and complexities of doing business across a network of people and goods.
This capability is fully integrated into IBM Blockchain. Kouvola Innovation (Kinno), an economic development company based in Finland, used the IBM Watson IoT Platform to connect devices to a blockchain.
Using the technology, Kinno is developing a solution that tracks, monitors, and reports on container status and location, and optimises packing and transfer of shipments through shipping lanes.
Security Solutions and Services: a new set of IoT Security Solutions and Services that help companies proactively identify potential risks and protect their devices from compromise.
Enhanced security features in the Watson IoT Platform will provide visibility to possible exposures across the IoT landscape, alerts for immediate notification, and automatic operational responses tailored to individual customer environments.
The service offerings will also include advanced security assessment, threat intelligence to identify anomalies, and data anonymisation to ensure data privacy while maximising data utility.
Natural Language Interface: new offerings which enable customers to tap the Watson IoT platform to develop new voice interfaces for customers – in homes, cars, stores, hotels and offices. For example, Local Motors uses a Watson powered Natural Language Interface for Olli – one of the world's first self-driving vehicles capable of a natural language interaction with its passengers.
Cognitive IoT Cookbook: a new resource that includes new recipes for developers containing code and best practice approaches for solving cognitive IoT challenges using Watson’s Natural Language Application Program Interfaces (APIs).