IBM Opens Watson Headquarters in NYC Amid New Cognitive Milestones

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2014-10-07 Print this article Print
IBM Watson HQ

And in another key global example, South Africa's Metropolitan Health, in the first commercial application of Watson on the African continent, is using Watson to transform customer health advisory services for its 3 million customers. Metropolitan Health will provide personalized, outcome-based health and wellness services to citizens across South Africa.

Using IBM's Watson Engagement Advisor, Metropolitan Health's client care agents can analyze the typically large volumes of complex unstructured and structured data, including product information and member profiles, so they can identify connections between customers' needs and the growing volume of health and lifestyle knowledge. Watson helps these agents weigh various options available to members, enabling more effective decision-making and driving better health outcomes, IBM said.

Other notable uses of the Watson technology include the launch of WayBlazer. Entrepreneur Terry Jones, the founder of Travelocity and founding chairman of, is launching WayBlazer, a new travel company powered by Watson. WayBlazer uses the cognitive intellect of Watson to engage, learn and advise users through a visual and natural language interface to create the best travel experience. The Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau is using a prototype version of the new WayBlazer app to improve convention bookings, increase hotel bookings, and provide additional revenue streams from partner and affiliate marketing opportunities. IBM said.

Watson, according to IBM, is being used in a host of other environments, including the following:

  • Red Ant (London) offers a retail sales trainer mobile app that lets store employees easily identify individual customers' buying preferences by analyzing demographics, purchase history and wish lists, as well as product information, local pricing, customer reviews and tech specs. It uses voice or text input to enable a natural question-and-answer interaction against the wealth of information available within a retail business, including product information, copybooks, manuals, customer reviews and more.
  • Sellpoints (Emeryville, Calif.) understands the relationships between consumer questions and products. For example, when a shopper searches for a product using natural language, Sellpoints' Natural Selection app returns product results sorted by relevance to that unique individual.
  • Findability Sciences (Waltham, Mass.) changes the way "good" is done by bringing a Watson app to the nonprofit sector to enable funders and donors to ask questions using natural language and receive answers instantaneously. This enables funders to make smarter investing decisions and better work to maximize existing investments to deliver the most impact.
  • LifeLearn (Guelph, Ontario) is helping veterinarians provide better care for pets by empowering doctors with its mobile app that crowdsources data using simple Q&A to identify better treatments options.
  • GenieMD (Pleasanton, Calif.) is a mobile platform that empowers patients to ask questions regarding health conditions, medications, etc., using conversational, natural language. Watson understands and can learn from the questions and answers, and provides health recommendations to the patients.
  • SparkCognition (Austin, Texas), a cognitive security company, is deploying Watson to assist it in thinking like a security expert so it can discover potential threats that may not even yet exist by making queries into an organization's big data.
IBM Watson represents a new era of computing in which apps and systems interact with human users more naturally, augment our knowledge with big data insight, and learn to improve how they assist us, IBM said.

In January 2014, IBM launched the IBM Watson Group, a new business unit dedicated to developing and commercializing cloud-delivered cognitive advisers. The move signifies a strategic shift by IBM to deliver a new class of software, services and apps that think, improve by learning and discover insights from massive amounts of big data.

IBM is investing more than $1 billion in the Watson Group, focusing on research and development and bringing cloud-delivered cognitive applications and services to market. This includes $100 million earmarked for direct investment to support IBM's ecosystem of startups and businesses building cognitive apps made with Watson.


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