IBM has made Watson services available on its Bluemix Platform-as-a-Service. The company also announced the opening of the Watson World HQ at 51 Astor Place in Manhattan, the new headquarters for the business it is building around its cognitive computing system.
The tie-in with IBM Bluemix is significant, as it allows any developer to tap into cognitive computing APIs and content to build apps that can learn natural language. It’s a chance to turn applications into intelligent mini Watsons. The company launched a freemium version of Watson services in September.
In January, IBM announced a $1 billion dollar investment in the Watson business.
The nickname “Watson” comes from IBM founder Thomas J. Watson. The technology is widely known outside of the tech world for its Jeopardy appearance many years ago, where it mopped the floor with human contestants. It gave Watson valuable exposure prior to a wider commercial roll-out. IBM has done other publicity stunts for its cognitive computing system, including a Watson-powered food cart at the SXSW conference and one of its conferences in Las Vegas.
Location of the new headquarters is significant too. New York City has a large high-tech talent pool and an active venture capital industry.
IBM said it was also opening five more “Watson Client Experience Centers,” which would make for a total of six worldwide. The five new centers will combine with IBM Research and Design teams to assist Watson adoption.
"Watson is bringing forward a new era of computing, enabling organizations around the globe to launch new businesses, redefine markets, and transform industries," said Mike Rhodin, senior vice president of the IBM Watson Group. "Watson is fueling a new market and ecosystem of clients, partners, developers, venture capitalists, universities, and students. The next great innovations will come from people who are able to make connections that others don't see and Watson is making possible."