Put the Watson AI into Your Raspberry Pi with IBM’s Free(ish) Embedded Development Platform

November 17, 2016 by Tim Youngblood

IBM released a development platform for Watson called Project Intu. What can we do with it?

IBM released a development platform for Watson called Project Intu. What can we do with it?

IBM recently released Project Intu, a software development platform that enables people to bring the Watson AI system into computer applications and even robotics.

IBM's goal for Project Intu is to make it easier for designers and developers to connect their projects to Watson. IBM hopes to use the massive amounts of data and behavior patterns picked up over the course of its machine learning process from these new users to make improvements to Watson. The API is free and anyone can download it.

While the eventual goal is a plug-and-play AI platform for home computers and robotics projects, the process of making it more user-friendly will take time (I'm still trying to get it working on my Raspberry Pi). Using Project Intu as a massive beta test by making it free and accessible for everyone will help IBM close that gap. Well, at least the first month is free—no credit card info required!.

It could be a few years, but the idea of everyone having access to an AI companion is enough to make me geek out.


From Jeopardy! to your home computer... Watson is everywhere now.


Watson for Makers

IBM wants to get the maker community involved with Watson and already has projects like the TJ Bot to get students on board. TJ Bot is an out-of-the-box, open-source robot that runs off a Raspberry Pi and connects to Watson. TJ Bot is named after Thomas J. Watson, the first CEO of IBM (IBM might need to work on their naming game...)

IBM has already created three starter projects for the TJ Bot: "Making TJ Bot respond to emotions", "making TJ Bot respond to voice commands", and "have your bot communicate with you verbally". These are all made possible with Watson's ability to process speech into text, and vice versa. 

Project Intu is IBM's first step toward making artificial intelligence applications available for anyone who is interested. 


IBM's TJ Bot

TJ Bot and his little cardboard body. Don't worry, you can upgrade its "chassis". Image courtesy of IBM

Watson for Software Developers

You can also download Project Intu for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Web-based businesses are encouraged to experiment with Watson so the AI can learn more and improve its abilities.

Integrating Watson into your home computer or web-based applications will allow you to: integrate voice commands into your interface, find keyword patterns in the command inputs received (such as frequently asked questions so you can include them on an FAQ page), and provide text transcriptions of conversations users have with the API.

The first 1,000 minutes of the service is free, and $0.02 per minute after that. This is a great opportunity for a small operation or hobbyist site, but I can imagine that two cents per minute adds up quickly at the enterprise level.

Watson for Embedded Developers

The most exciting prospect of Project Intu is the ease of implementation for voice command ability for IoT devices. This will hopefully open doors for fledgling inventors and designers by giving easy access and implementation to such a complex system. Just like content management systems like Wordpress made web design more approachable, this should open similar doors for embedded developers. (So far, integrating Project Intu has been more difficult than using Wordpress, but that's the dream!)


Get Started!

I gathered some resources if you'd like to get started with Project Intu. All you need to do is make a free Bluemix account and you can get started playing with Watson!

Watson Developer Cloud

TJ Bot Projects

Github Files for TJ Bot

Github Files for Project Intu

Speech-to-Text Demo


Project Intu has a very broad appeal for professionals and hobbyists alike. I'm currently attempting to make my own version of an Amazon Echo with a Raspberry Pi. If you're already using Project Intu, let us know what you're doing with it in the comments!

  • J
    JTRACKER December 02, 2016

    I choked at the statement of $0.2 per minute after the first 1000 minutes, as 20 cents a minute is huge, but then saw the following statement of 2 cents a minute ($0.02).  Which one is it?

    Like. Reply
    • tim yb December 02, 2016
      Ooops, that was a typo. It's 2 cents. Thanks for pointing that out!
      Like. Reply