IBM Launches Watson Mobile Developer Challenge
Cuomo maintains that there have not been many recent innovations at the level of Watson, so IBM is trying to jump-start the market for Watson-based mobile apps. IBM already has pledged $1 billion to fuel the Watson Group effort and has earmarked $100 million for venture investments to help new Watson-focused companies get off the ground. "The challenge is to unleash the cognitive computing capabilities out to the rest of the world so people can build mobile cognitive apps that leverage the ability to do natural language processing of speech," Cuomo said. "Think about [Apple's] Siri, and then think about Watson. If you asked both systems, 'Which direction would you look to see wainscoting?' what kind of response do you think you would get? With Watson, the answer would be 'down,' because you look down to see wainscoting [the wooden paneling that covers the lower part of the walls in a room]. With Siri, you get something like 'Wayne's World' or 'Wayne's clothes.' The difference is in being able to catch nuance and not just sift through content." Over the next three months, the global challenge invites mobile developers and entrepreneurs to share their best ideas for building and developing mobile apps into prototypes. Three winners will join the Watson Ecosystem Program. The winners will work with IBM's recently launched global consulting practice, IBM Interactive Experience, receiving design consultation and support from IBM experts to develop a viable commercial app. The IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge is part of the IBM MobileFirst strategy to help businesses of all sizes adopt mobile technology to better engage with customers and extend their businesses to new markets. The news also represents the latest milestone in the newly formed IBM Watson Group to fuel an ecosystem of developers, startups, tech companies and venture capitalists who are building a new generation of Watson-powered apps as part of the Watson Developers Cloud.Currently, more than 1,500 individuals and organizations have shared their ideas for creating cognitive computing applications that redefine how businesses and consumers make decisions. In fact, global developers have created and plan to go to market in 2014 with Watson apps across a variety of industries. Using natural language processing and analytics, Watson processes information similar to how people think, representing a major shift in an organization's ability to quickly analyze, understand and respond to big data. Delivered from the cloud and able to power new consumer and enterprise services and apps, Watson is now 24 times faster and smarter with a 2,400 percent improvement in performance than the original version that won "Jeopardy." Named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, Watson was developed in IBM's Research labs and is now being accelerated into market by the new Watson Group. As part of the group, IBM is investing $1 billion to introduce a new class of cognitive computing services, software and apps. IBM said Watson's ability to answer complex questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence has the potential to transform decision making across a variety of industries, including health care, financial services and retail.
"We're hoping to get more domain expertise," Cuomo said. "The benefit for us is being able to sharpen the Watson ecosystem."