Proving that it is serious on building its future on cognitive computing, tech behemoth IBM recently opened a state-of-the-art laboratory at the heart of Singapore’s posh business district to develop and commercialize ?”disruptive” technologies in Asia.
Top officials from IBM and the Singaporean government attended the formal launch of the Watson Center, an ultra-modern and integrated facility located at the Marina Bay Financial Center.
As a way of demonstrating the progress it has made in cognitive computing, IBM showed off to guests the conversational skills of its Watson-powered robots named “Nao” and “Nao-Mi”.
Since Watson can recognize the natural language of humans, the robots were able to carry conversations with IBM executives. In one demo, Nao-Mi was also able to correctly name a certain type of car that was shown to it.
Aside from housing the company’s new Asia Pacific headquarters, the facility will also act as a center of expertise for almost 5,000 IBM cognitive solutions professionals in the Asia Pacific region, including researchers, IBM Watson specialists, data scientists, software engineers, agile developers and analytics experts.
IBM said Watson represents a new era in computing called cognitive computing, where systems understand the world the way humans do: through senses, learning, and experience.
To advance Watson, IBM has three dedicated business units: Watson, established for the development of cloud-delivered cognitive computing technologies that represent the commercialization of “artificial intelligence” or “AI” across a variety of industries; Watson Health, dedicated to improving the ability of doctors, researchers and insurers and other related health organizations; and Watson IoT, focused on making sense of data embedded in more than 9 billion connected devices operating in the world today.
The company said it put up the Watson Center in anticipation of disruptive technologies such as cognitive computing and blockchain technology that are expected to drive dramatic shifts in every industry in the next few years.
Loosely defined, blockchain technology is “a public ledger of transactions that have been executed. It is constantly growing as ‘completed’ blocks are added to it with a new set of recordings”.
The tech giant stressed that the Watson Center will also function as an incubator that will allow organizations, business partners and IBM experts to co-create business solutions that take advantage IBM’s cognitive, blockchain, and design capabilities.
With the advent of blockchain, and the increasing demand from clients across Asia to explore the possibilities of this transformative technology, IBM said the lab will help accelerate the development and commercialization of blockchain applications through the IBM Garage and the IBM Global Entrepreneur program.
At the IBM Garage, experts collaborate with clients, developers and entrepreneurs to test-drive tools, processes, and procedures to make blockchain real.
The garage creates a bridge between the scale of enterprise and culture of startups and supports the development of an open standards-based blockchain ecosystem.
The IBM Global Entrepreneur Program, meanwhile, is seen helping startups and entrepreneurs who are building new generation of applications on blockchain technology.
“Watson and blockchain are two technologies that will rapidly change the way we live and work, and our clients in Asia Pacific are eager to lead the way in envisioning and creating that future,” said Randy Walker, chairman and CEO of IBM Asia Pacific.
“Here they can leverage the latest in customer experience design, use cognitive technology to draw insight from vast quantities of data, and draw on IBM’s huge investments in research and development. In partnership with our clients we are nurturing local talent and building an ecosystem to accelerate the development of cognitive solutions and blockchain platforms.”
The Watson Center will also host IBM Studios Singapore, a new center that will allow Asia Pacific clients analyze business challenges and develop solutions through a combination of IBM’s research technology, cognitive capabilities and experience design.
Stefan Hirsch, Asean lead for IBM Interactive Experience (iX) said, “Our designers work with clients through the customer experience from strategy, creative and design to scalable digital, commerce, mobile and wearable platforms. We sit side-by-side with our clients to invent and co-create personalized, innovative solutions using IBM’s leadership in cognitive, research and design to take digital experiences to the next level for clients.”