The future of IoT: reflecting on a week at World of Watson

By | 2 minute read | November 7, 2016

leadspace image for IoT at World of Watson 2016

IoT and Watson

The Internet of Things (IoT) all starts with the ‘thing’ – a car, a thermostat, a toaster, a watch, a plane, a building.  One of the aspects of IoT that I love the most is how tangible it is.  We use things every day all the time They are a fundamental part of our lives, at work and at home.  But with new technology we’re making these everyday items smarter, enabling them to do amazing things: cars that listen, speakers that tell you what’s happening, whiteboards that take note – the list goes on and on.

When I first started learning about Watson I characterized it as an all-seeing, powerful, centralized intelligence. Not actually like the Watson from the Sherlock Holmes stories, more like Holmes’ brother, Mycroft, whose role in the British Government is described like this: “All other men are specialists, but his specialism is omniscience. They began by using him as a short-cut, a convenience; now he has made himself an essential. In that great brain of his everything is pigeon-holed and can be handed out in an instant.”

And IoT is bringing this intelligence into the world of physical objects.  Connecting these ‘things’ so they have some ability to process information.

The coming together of IoT and cognitive – in settings like the smart home, connected car, smarter cities and so on –  was one of the reasons we started Watson IoT as an IBM unit in the first place.

The IoT developments we saw at World of Watson

  • Whiteboards, from our partners at Ricoh, that use Watson to listen to meetings, make translations and automatically create and organize notes and actions.
  • Speakers, from David, Erik and the team at Harman, that are put in hospital rooms at Jefferson Memorial Hospital and help patients control their rooms and understand their surroundings.
  • Autonomous cars, from Jay and the Local Motors crew, that enable their passengers to ask questions and order rides using every day conversational language.
  • Drones, from Jan and the team at Aerialtronics, that understand what they’re looking at and keep things like cell phone towers and transmission equipment working properly.
  • Cars, from General Motors, that understand the driver and location and offer suggestions and information in a personalized and intelligent way.
  • Fridges, from Honeywell, using predictive maintenance to determine when they might fail, keeping food safe and fresh.

These were all on show at IBM’s World of Watson.  And what’s amazing is we haven’t even scratched the surface.

Think about the number of things we use every day, and imagine if all of them had some level of intelligence.  Our cars, offices, homes – they’d be totally different places – and soon they really will be.

Learn more about IBM’s work in the IoT arena, or get in touch using the comments below and tell us how you use IoT or would like to see it applied in the future.