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IBM introduces new Watson app partners, HQ, Bluemix services

BY Dan Berthiaume

Armonk, N.Y. – IBM is introducing new partners developing apps based on its Watson artificial intelligence platform and world headquarters for its Watson Group, as well as new cognitive services that will be available on IBM Bluemix, IBM's cloud-based platform for mobile and Web app development.

Leveraging IBM Watson technology, three new partners in the Watson ecosystem are launching new solutions aimed at retailers. Red Ant, based in London, offers the Sell Smart mobile app, a retail sales trainer that lets employees identify individual customers’ buying preferences by analyzing demographics, purchase history and wish lists, as well as product information, local pricing, customer reviews and tech specs. It uses voice or text input to enable a question-and-answer interface against the wealth of information available within a retail business, including product information, copybooks, manuals, customer reviews, and more. Red Ant is a Watson Mobile Developer Challenge winner.

Reflexis, based in Dedham, Massachusetts, has released a Watson interconnect module for the Reflexis StorePulse real-time execution application, enabling retailers to drive best-practice actions in response to local events, social media buzz, news, weather, and other influences that affect customer demand.

Sellpoints, an e-commerce technology provider based in Emeryville, California, is unveiling its Watson powered app called Natural Selection, which uses natural language to put the right products in front of the right shoppers at the exact moment they’re ready to buy. For example, when a shopper searches for a product using natural language, such as “My second grader needs help learning science basics,” the cognitive app returns product results sorted by relevance, which subsequently increases conversion rates for the retailer.

IBM is investing more than $1 billion in the Watson Group, focusing on research, development and bringing cloud-delivered cognitive applications and services to market. This includes $100 million earmarked for direct investment to support IBM’s ecosystem of start-ups and businesses building cognitive apps made with Watson.

In addition, IBM is opening a new world headquarters for its Watson Group in New York. The Watson headquarters will serve as a home base for more than 600 IBM Watson employees, part of the more than 2,000 IBM employees dedicated to Watson worldwide. IBM is opening the Watson Group headquarters to area developers and entrepreneurs, hosting industry workshops, seminars and networking opportunities.

IBM is also opening the first five Watson Client Experience Centers, co-located with IBM Research and Design teams, to provide the support and skills needed to fully adopt the Watson cognitive platform. The initial new centers will be located in Dublin, London, Melbourne, Sao Paulo and Singapore.

Furthermore, Bluemix users can access an evolving set of APIs and content to build apps, powered by the Watson artificial intelligence platform, that help accelerate, enhance, and scale human expertise for confident decision making. The new services available through Bluemix include linguistic analytics to extract a set of personality and social traits from the way a person communicates, machine translation, language identification, context-based text analysis, scoring of message resonance, analysis of individual sentences and documents, and interactive visualization of input data. Bluemix runs on SoftLayer, IBM's global cloud infrastructure.

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