During a keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) today, IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty announced several new advances and partnerships built around the IBM Watson cognitive computing platform.
The news signals the rapid adoption of Watson technology by consumers and that Watson technology is increasingly touching hundreds of millions of individuals around the world.
However, Rometty's presence at CES does not signal that IBM is becoming "a consumer company," but the partnerships Big Blue is forging and the cognitive platforms the company is building are bringing digital business and digital intelligence together in new ways.
To illustrate this, at CES Rometty announced that Under Armour and IBM have developed a new cognitive coaching system that will serve as a personal health consultant, fitness trainer and assistant by providing athletes with timely, evidence-based coaching about health and fitness-related issues, including outcomes achieved based on others "like you." It integrates IBM Watson's technology with the data from Under Armour's Connected Fitness community—a vast digital health and fitness community of more than 160 million members.
Meanwhile, Omar Ishrak, CEO of Medtronic joined Rometty onstage to unveil the latest advances in applying Watson for diabetes management. The two teams have reached a key milestone in tests of a diabetes management app that can predict hypoglycemic events up to three hours in advance—early enough to enable a person with diabetes to take action and prevent a potentially dangerous health event.
In addition, Softbank Robotics and IBM announced plans to take their partnership on a Watson-powered robot global. Through their joint work, Softbank has infused Watson into their "empathetic" robot Pepper, enabling it to understand and answer questions in real time, opening up new possibilities for the use of robotics in business scenarios such as banking, retail and hospitality.
And Whirlpool and IBM announced that real-time data from Whirlpool's connected appliances will be combined with analytics in the Watson IoT cloud to create a range of new cognitive products and services. For example, a cognitive oven, over time, could learn about a family's eating habits, health issues and food preferences—and suggest healthy recipes customized for each family member. IBM demonstrated Whirlpool’s Jen-Air oven equipped with the Chef Watson cooking app.
Under Armour's new UA Record app combined with a Cognitive Coaching System applies machine learning to digital health and fitness. A future version of the UA Record app powered by IBM Watson could be the first system to assess and combine a variety of factors that affect health and fitness programs, including: personal, physiological and behavioral data, nutrition, expert training knowledge, and environmental factors. These insights will initially be available within UA Record available now on the App Store.
For example, a person can compete and compare against other people that are their same age. A male in his 40's will see that there are 4.5 million other people in the database today—that are "just like you." The UA Record app will share health and fitness insights comparable to others similar to you, including average weight, average resting heart rate and average steps taken per day. Additional insights could show how long an average workout is or how long someone like you is sleeping, down to the minute.
Through the IBM partnership, Under Armour will add new capabilities over the next year that will allow the Cognitive Coaching System powered by IBM Watson to transform athlete engagement and motivation in the following areas: Behavioral and performance management, based on Watson's ability to tap into users behavioral and performance trends; food intake tracking and overall nutrition management, based on Watson Visual Recognition and Watson Discovery technology; and how weather and environmental factors effect training, based on Watson's weather domain knowledge combined with the Watson News Service API for integrating daily news sources.