IBM buffs up Watson with new APIs

Watson on Jeopardy

IBM has added a wealth of new APIs to Watson that brings the supercomputer expanded language, vision and speech capabilities alongside a new location in San Francisco.

Unveiled today, the new APIs are designed to give developers and app creators a more advanced set of tools that when implemented into apps provide a far higher level of cognitive power than is currently present.

Among the new language capabilities is the Watson Natural Language Classifier that helps developers to create products and apps that understand the intent and meaning of words to find answers that are more useful.


IBM Watson Dialog, meanwhile, makes app interactions more natural, Watson Retrieve and Rank detects signals in data using machine learning to uncover the hardest to reach information, and Watson Concept Insights allows apps to expand and relate concepts by using the meaning of a word as well as text matching.

On the visual side of things, Watson Visual Insights lets develops build apps that include insights from social media images and video. The API applies reasoning to image content to bring deeper insights and better information on trends and patterns to get a view of the 'big picture'.

IBM Speech to Text and Text to Speech lets developers roll their mobile apps out to more places and it now supports various different languages including Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.

Hitting Silicon Valley

Additionally, a new set of developer tools has been launched by IBM to reduce the period it takes to combine Watson APIs with data sets. The tools simplify the task of embedding Watson APIs into any form factor whether it be mobile devices, cloud services or connected systems.

Watson's impressive success is illustrated further by a new Watson location in San Francisco that will serve as the global HQ for IBM Commerce, one of the fastest growing products in the Watson portfolio.

New partners

Thousands of developers and commercial partners across dozens of different fields are using Watson APIs including new partners in the shape of 50wise, Volume and SocialBro and this is expected to extend even further with the new APIs.

It's all part of the some $1 billion (about £700 million, AU$1.1 billion) that Big Blue is in the midst of investing into the Watson unit, which runs on IBM's Soft Layer cloud services, and is part of its wider move away from its original lifeblood - hardware.