IBM promotes its “Watson” artificial brain for consumer apps, robots and other gadgets

IBM CEO Virginia Rometty says the future of gadgets is not just connectivity, but the ability to analyze and “think.”

While IBM isn’t known for consumer technology, Ms. Rometty argued that her company’s “Watson” artificial brain, developed at its Riverside Drive labs in Ottawa, can enhance a variety of consumer products.

In a talk Wednesday at the CES gadget show, she announced new partnerships with three companies that will use Watson, the IBM “cognitive computing” system that ran the table on Jeopardy a few years back.

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Under Armour, the athletic apparel maker, is releasing a fitness app that uses Watson to analyze a users’ activity, weight and other data to make personalized recommendations for diet and exercise. Medtronic, which makes medical equipment, has developed an app that uses Watson to help diabetics track their blood sugar level, diet and other factors to warn them of impending hypoglycemic events up to three hours in advance.

Ms. Rometty also introduced a humanoid made by Japan’s SoftBank that uses Watson’s intelligence to work as a mobile concierge in banks and stores. The robot uses voice recognition and synthesis to answer questions and recommend products based on the data it collects from customers.


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