It seems that every company has frantically set about developing its own IoT platform, so it came as no surprise that IBM released its own addition to the IoT world. What did come as a surprise was that IBM's offering is arguably cooler than anything else currently on the market.
1. Watson thinks uncannily like a human.
Companies like Apple and Amazon have technology that is able to answer simple, structured questions like "What's the weather like?" That's great, except for when you want to know what the weather was like in 1972 on a particular Tuesday in Northampton. That's an example of unstructured data, and most language processing technology would have no way to analyze the various components of a complex question. Watson does. That means it has the ability to understand nuanced, natural language. Now, apply that kind of massive processing power to the demands of IoT and you can see the kind of ramifications it would have. Part of that processing power means that....
2. Watson learns.
IBM has developed a way for Watson to continually grow. Feed it a PDF and it not only retains that information but analyzes it in context to the information it already has, just like a human. If that's applied to IoT, it means that things can learn about human traits without having to be told. For instance, if you have a habit of leaving your lights on, Watson would know. That's slightly terrifying, but also helpful, especially when it comes to more complicated systems like the electrical usage of a skyscraper.
3. It works with Raspberry Pi.
There's a good chance you've got a Raspberry Pi kicking around somewhere. IBM knows that EEs are more likely to adopt new technology if designers don't have to learn entirely new processes or systems. The Pi is familiar to all of us. Not only is IBM giving away free trials of the Watson IoT, they're also proving that the processing power of Watson is adaptive enough to work on fairly pedestrian hardware. This works in IBM's favor too, of course: putting that kind of power in the hands of the world's most creative people is a guarantee that we'll be seeing some pretty fantastic implementation in the near future and IBM will be receiving valuable feedback. It's a win-win.
4. The health implications are massive.
Watson can read 40 million documents in 15 seconds. That--unless you know someone harboring a great secret about speed reading--is faster than humans will ever be able to accomplish anything. But it's one thing for a technology to ingest information and quite another for it to apply information. Because Watson understands unstructured data, it can be asked complex questions about that data. For healthcare providers, it means greater efficiency, but the truly innovative thing is that Watson could potentially see high-level patterns of illnesses and treatments that haven't been caught before. It could allow hospitals to monitor equipment and provide better care and possibly even treat diseases we've struggled to cure with our current methods.
5. It's green.
If you're unfamiliar with EnOcean, it's energy harvesting wireless technology. EnOcean allows wireless components to essentially power themselves; a massive deal, since energy usage is normally the biggest issue in a system. EnOcean's miniaturized energy converters gain energy from motion, light, and temperature. Combine this with Watson IoT and you have a cognitive, adaptable system that uses no batteries and creates its own energy. That's progressive and means very little--if any--maintenance.
EnOcean in Conjunction with Watson's IoT Gateway
It's always wise to be cautiously optimistic about these kind of innovations, but IBM's Watson IoT is promising. It's also unbiased: the platform is open and its cognitive capabilities can be applied to countless devices and gateways. The company seems genuinely interested in applying the power of Watson to progressive IoT solutions. Data is, after all, the key to revolutionary solutions.