IBM brings power of Watson supercomputer to app development cloud

IBM has announced that it will be making its Watson supercomputer technology available as a development platform in the cloud, for the first time.

The move will enable a worldwide community of software application providers to build a new generation of apps utilising Watson's artificial intelligence with the hope of spurring on innovation.

To bring the technology to the masses, IBM is launching the Watson Developers Cloud, a cloud-hosted marketplace where application providers of all sizes and industries will be able to tap into resources for developing Watson-powered apps through partnering with IBM. This will include a developer toolkit, educational materials and access to Watson's application programming interface.

"Together with IBM, these business partners share a vision for creating a new class of cognitive applications that transform how businesses and consumers make decisions," the firm said.

IBM will connect its app-building partners with skilled professionals who can help advance their creative visions into market-ready products and services it added. The firm has committed over 500 of its own subject matter experts as part of the overall programme, in areas such as design, development and research.

Application providers participating in the project will also be expected to connect with freelance professionals whose expertise can serve as a complement to their existing teams, from programmers to app developers.

"By sharing IBM Watson's cognitive abilities with the world, we aim to fuel a new ecosystem that accelerates innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit," said Michael Rhodin, Senior Vice President, IBM Software Solutions Group.

"With this move, IBM is taking a bold step to advance the new era of cognitive computing. Together with our partners we'll spark a new class of applications that will learn from experience, improve with each interaction and outcome, and assist in solving the most complex questions facing the industry and society."

Three IBM business partners have already developed early versions of Watson-powered apps, which are set to be available in 2014: visual merchandising firm Fluid Retail, healthcare supply chain specialist MD Buyline and health management service Welltok.