IBM Launches Project Intu for Embodied Cognition

IBM's new Project Intu enables developers to apply its Watson cognitive computing technology to different form factors and devices.

IBM, embodied cognition

Just two weeks after hosting its World of Watson conference in Las Vegas, IBM kicked off its Watson Developer Conference in San Francisco to further advance its Watson cognitive computing platform among developers.

At the developer conference, IBM launched the experimental release of its Project Intu, a new system-agnostic platform designed to enable embodied cognition. Embodied cognition is the application of artificial intelligence to form factors, such as robots, devices or other objects.

Project Intu enables developers to embed Watson functions into various end-user device form factors to create new cognitive-enabled experiences.

"IBM is taking cognitive technology beyond a physical technology interface like a smartphone or a robot toward an even more natural form of human and machine interaction," Rob High, IBM Fellow, vice president and CTO of IBM Watson, said in a statement. "Project Intu allows users to build embodied systems that reason, learn and interact with humans to create a presence with the people that use them—these cognitive-enabled avatars and devices could transform industries like retail, elder care, and industrial and social robotics."

The new IBM project is available on the Watson Developer Cloud, Intu Gateway and GitHub.

With roots in IBM Research, Project Intu is an effort to extend cognitive technology into the physical world in form factors like robots, avatars, spaces and internet of things (IoT) devices.

Developers can tap into Watson services like the Conversation, Language and Visual Recognition APIs to apply different cognitive behaviors to devices.

The goal of Project Intu is to provide developers with a simplified environment for creating embodied cognition experiences on a variety of operating systems. The project supports Raspberry PI, Mac OS, Windows and Linux environments, among others.

"IBM's Project Intu is after a different sort of game," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "First and foremost, the company hopes to use the effort to broaden Watson's use and appeal across numerous development environments. But more fundamentally, Project Intu is designed to humanize user interfaces and interactions within IoT environments. If IBMs Project Intu succeeds, it could go a long way toward normalizing IoT use cases and solutions."

Steve Abrams, IBM vice president of Watson Developer Advocacy, wrote in a recent blog post, "Our philosophy at IBM is to put our technology in the hands of developers, because for every good idea we have, we know they're thinking up thousands more."

Abrams then went on to highlight several projects where developers are using Watson to deliver cognitive solutions. He noted that IBM also expanded access to Watson for developers through partnerships with third-party platforms such as the Twilio Marketplace, which is comprised of more than 1 million developers.

In October, IBM introduced the Watson Application Development Certification program, which is designed to help developers globally build and validate their skills as well as connect with companies looking to leverage their unique talents, Abrams said. "We also launched an AI Nanodegree in conjunction with Udacity and a new partnership with Kivuto Solutions to provide students and academics around the world with free access to the complete IBM Bluemix porfolio."