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.
IBM’s Rometty Takes Watson to CES
“When it comes to digital health and fitness tracking, the past ten years have been about data collection,” said Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour, in a statement. “We’re now at a point where a shift is occurring and consumers are demanding more from this information. This partnership will allow us to provide value back to the consumer in an unprecedented way, as we integrate IBM Watson’s machine learning technology…”
Initially, the Cognitive Coaching System will provide insights around four categories, which will be displayed within the newly released UA Record app: sleep, fitness, activity and nutrition. The insights originate from three sources, including the Under Armour Connected Fitness community, external academic research studies and institutions, and IBM Watson similarity analytics.
“As the first system of the cognitive era, Watson infuses a kind of thinking ability into digital applications, products and systems,” said John Kelly, senior vice president of IBM Research and Solutions Portfolio, in a statement. “We have already seen this capability begin to transform industries as diverse as healthcare, insurance and retail. We are working with a leader in the health and fitness industry and now by leveraging the power of Watson, Under Armour will transform personal fitness, build a deeper relationship with its customers, and enhance virtually anyone’s performance on their path to achieving personal goals.”
Both Under Armour and IBM will allocate employees, technology and resources to further develop the Cognitive Coaching System, and will collaborate to define and evolve the consumer experience.
Meanwhile, Whirlpool is gearing up for a market on the cusp of increased demand for intuitive, connected home appliances. Through IBM Watson services, including cognitive analytics, data management and protection, Whirlpool can better serve the consumer as connected home appliances continue to evolve. The collaboration will also focus, in part, on the importance and intricacies of big data. Whirlpool is using IBM Cloud Business Solutions to harness real-time data and insights from appliances to drive product optimization or enhance and introduce new benefits customized to consumers’ unique needs.
“IBM’s cognitive analytics is a strong fit for Whirlpool Corporation,” said Laurent Borne, general manager of Connected Appliances at Whirlpool, in a statement. “Saving energy and water, caring for their families through mobile efficiencies – these are the benefits we’re hoping to bring to consumers. IBM’s expertise in data storage, and cloud computing ensures we’ll continue to bring our consumers relevant technologies in the future, as well as deliver new, innovative, and distinctive experiences for the consumer.“
For her part, Rometty said IBM and SoftBank Robotics Holdings Corp. (SBRH) will tap into data and knowledge across the “Internet of Things” to enable Watson-powered Pepper robots to make sense of the hidden meaning in data that traditional computers cannot comprehend – including social media, video, images and text. IBM Watson represents a new era in computing where systems understand the world in the way that humans do: through senses, learning, and experience.
The Watson-powered Pepper robot under development would be equipped with core functionalities as well as a Watson software development kit (SDK) that enables developers to tailor the interaction experience. IBM will give clients access to Watson APIs and various pre-packaged applications designed to address a variety of personal and professional needs.
“Today, the power of cognitive computing can be woven into any form factor,” said Mike Rhodin, senior vice president of IBM Watson, in a statement. “Our collaboration with SBRH on Pepper will allow a much broader audience to experience and tap into Watson. In terms of hands-on interaction, when cognitive capabilities are embedded in robotics, you see people engage and benefit from this technology in new and exciting ways.”