The Internet of Things is really just a catch-all buzzword referring to devices and gadgets that are actively connected to the Internet, but weren’t before. Everyday stuff like, say, lamps, vacuum cleaners, or toasters with network connectivity all fall under the greater Internet of Things umbrella. According to IBM, all that data being collected by these gadgets isn’t used to its fullest potential, and it's looking to change all that.
The company on Tuesday, Dec. 15, opened a global headquarters for Watson IoT in Munich, Germany. Watson IoT being exactly what it sounds like — a combination of Watson, described by IBM as "a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data" that most people probably associate with a Jeopardy! appearance, and the Internet of Things. The idea here is that applying the former to the latter will hope folks make better use of all the data that's being gathered but essentially left untouched.
"The Internet of Things will soon be the largest single source of data on the planet, yet almost 90 percent of that data is never acted upon," says Harriet Green, Watson IoT and education general manager, in an IBM press release about the new headquarters. "With its unique abilities to sense, reason and learn, Watson opens the door for enterprises, governments and individuals to finally harness this real-time data, compare it with historical data sets and deep reservoirs of accumulated knowledge, and then find unexpected correlations that generate new insights to benefit business and society alike."
Specifically, IBM's making four new groups of Watson APIs available to folks looking to analyze this IoT data. The Natural Language Processing (NLP) API Family, the Machine Learning Watson API Family, the Video and Image Analytics API Family, and the Text Analytics API Family all provide different solutions to related problems like mining unstructured textual data from call centers, monitoring unstructured data from video feeds, and more.
It announced it also is opening eight new Watson IoT Client Experience Centers to provide clients and partners access to technology and tools to create products and services using cognitive intelligence delivered through the Watson IoT Cloud Platform. The centers will be in Beijing, China; Boeblingen, Germany; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, Korea; Tokyo, Japan; and Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Texas in the U.S.
What is it that we, as a species, could learn from all this data? It’s hard to say before folks start to really sift through it efficiently — which is seemingly the whole point of this venture. Learning about habits and all that from the objects most commonly used in our lives seems like there would be a number of insights to be had. It’s such a huge swath of data that there’s little telling what those nuggets might be.