IBM's Watson has come a long way from its 2011 "Jeopardy" appearance.
The computing technology is now playing a key role in IoT thanks to its cognitive abilities, said Ginni Rometty, IBM president, CEO and chairman, in her CES keynote Wednesday afternoon — the first IBM CEO keynote in CES history.
Rometty said Watson can operate as a Cloud paradigm whose cognitive abilities "puts thinking into everything you do." Watson will now take data from devices based on use by consumers, learn using analytics, and anticipate services that can improve everyday life.
Rometty brought out three IBM customers who are using Watson. The first was Kevin Plank, founder/CEO of Under Armour, who came up with the phrase "cognitive fitness" two years ago based on the idea that "we know more about our cars than ourselves."
Under Armour has developed Health Box to measure heart rate, calories and weight, among other things, and it provides insights from Watson to analyze how someone feels. It then compares the results to the user, to friends or to a nationwide database.
Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak was the second partner who appeared. His company has used Watson for diabetes management to predict possible hypoglycemic incidents three hours in advance, something that has never been able to be predicted.
Ishrak said one in 11 people have diabetes, a costly condition that can create long-term health problems or result in death. He noted that Watson's “cognitive abilities" via the app Medtronic created measures carbs, blood sugar and other factors, and the IBM system advises whether or not a user should eat certain foods based on up-to-the-minute data.
The third IBM partner introduced was Kenichi Yoshida, business development VP for SoftBank Robotics, whose company developed the robot Pepper that is powered by Watson.
“Watson now thinks in Japanese,” Yoshida said. The robot is being used at top Japanese banks to interact with human customers. Pepper is also operating at 200 Nestle coffee shops in Japan, assisting customers on the types of coffee they want to buy and directing them to specific coffee machines to use.
Rometty said cognitive systems and IoT have developed faster in the past couple of years faster than PCs and others when they first started, and that this Cloud-based platform will enable IBM "to reach hundreds of millions of consumers" in a few years — "which is why we are at CES."