IBM Expands Watson Platform for Next Generation of Builders; Extends Industry’s Largest Portfolio of Cognitive APIs

- New APIs Broaden Watson’s Language, Vision and Speech Capabilities
- Developer Tools Simplify Combining APIs and Data
- Upcoming Platform Innovations Previewed including Industry Data Sets & Robotics Integration
- New Watson Hub to Open in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO - 24 Sep 2015: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today expanded the industry’s largest and most diverse set of cognitive APIs, technologies and tools for developers who are creating products, services and applications embedded with Watson.  

          IBM Watson Then and Now

Watson represents an entirely new model of computing—‘cognitive.’ It understands all types of data, it isn’t programmed, it learns. Watson has been put to work in diverse industries with clients and through an open developer platform. IBM continues to expand Watson’s abilities, enabling partners to bring their own creativity and aspirations as they build their businesses with cognitive. (Credit: IBM)

The announcement was made by IBM during its forum on cognitive computing and Artificial Intelligence, where the company announced a new Watson location in San Francisco. IBM also previewed new platform innovations and research projects that will extend its industry-leading cognitive portfolio.


New capabilities, offered through the Watson Developer Cloud, include advanced language, speech, and vision services, and developer tools.

In less than two years, the Watson platform has evolved from one API and a limited set of application-specific deep Q&A capabilities to more than 25 APIs powered by over 50 technologies.

“Since introducing the Watson development platform, thousands of people have used these technologies in new and inventive ways, and many have done so without extensive experience as a coder or data scientist,” said Mike Rhodin, senior vice president, IBM Watson. “We believe that by opening Watson to all, and continuously expanding what it can do, we are democratizing the power of data, and with it innovation.”

New and expanded capabilities for developers include:

      Language:  IBM is introducing dramatic advances in services that enable cognitive applications to understand the ambiguities of natural language in text. For example,

IBM Watson Natural Language Classifier enables developers to build products and applications that understand intent and meaning, finding answers for users even when questions are asked in varying ways; IBM Watson Dialog makes app interactions more natural by creating conversations tailored to the individual style a person uses to ask a question;  IBM Watson Retrieve and Rank improves QA information retrieval using machine learning to detect “signals” in data and help users uncover even the most hard-to-find information; and IBM Watson Concept Insights enables an application to expand and relate concepts, drawing on the meaning of a word rather than simple text matching.

     Vision: IBM Watson Visual Insights for the first time allows developers to build apps that reveal insights from social media images and video. Available initially as an experimental service, this API applies reasoning to the content of images to deliver deeper insights, assess trends and patterns, and get a more comprehensive view of what users are communicating to get the ‘big picture.’

     Speech:  A pioneer of speech technologies, IBM is advancing IBM Speech to Text and IBM Text to Speech services by adding new tools that allow developers to create mobile apps in multiple languages, including Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese, with additional languages to be continually introduced.

     Developer Tools:  IBM is making available the first set of developer tools that significantly reduce the time required to combine Watson APIs and data sets. The tools make it easy to embed Watson APIs in any form factor from mobile devices, cloud services, and connected systems. IBM is also previewing IBM Watson Knowledge Studio where the company will open up its machine learning and text analytics capabilities in a single tool, making it simpler for line of business or general subject matter experts to use their own industry and organizational expertise to easily and rapidly train their cognitive applications.

IBM Brings Watson West with New Cognitive Computing Hub in San Francisco

IBM will expand the company’s presence in Silicon Valley and the greater Bay Area with a new Watson Hub, South of Market (SoMa) in San Francisco. At the new location IBM professionals will be delivering and developing new cognitive computing capabilities. This will put IBM closer to, and increase collaboration with, the local start ups, developers, venture capital groups, established businesses and academic experts the company is currently working with to take cognitive computing into new markets. The location will also serve as the new global headquarters for IBM Commerce, a high-growth industry opportunity for IBM and Watson. The teams there will collaborate to integrate Watson solutions with the company’s market leading Commerce portfolio for retailers and consumer products organizations. Located at 505 Howard Street, the facility will open in early 2016.

Watson Ecosystem Partners in Market Building Businesses

As the Watson platform has grown, tens of thousands of developers and hundreds of commercial Watson partners are now building applications, services and businesses embedded with cognitive computing. For example: 

 The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world’s oldest and largest scientific and educational computing society, is tapping IBM Watson Concept Insights to help find surprising connections between researchers and to predict authors who are relevant to a given technical area.

Coalesce has developed a cognitive application that combines the company’s research expertise with AlchemyData News to help businesses make faster, more accurate, evidence-based decisions.

Touchcast is developing a new way for people to collaborate through an interactive video application for web conferencing that uses IBM Speech to Text to build a corpus of transcripts that can be instantly recalled after a meeting to facilitate knowledge management and collaboration.

Wayin, a real-time digital marketing technology and services company, is using Watson’s vision capabilities to help brands discover the most compelling content that will persuade and drive marketing results based on the hundreds of million pieces of visual content uploaded to social channels daily.

The APIs featured in the Watson Developer Cloud are drawn from breakthroughs from IBM Research and strategic acquisitions that include AlchemyAPI and Cognea. They are built from advances in Natural Language Processing, Deep Learning and Machine Learning, among other computer science disciplines including Artificial Intelligence (AI).

What started with one key API in the Watson system that triumphed on Jeopardy! is now a vast collection underpinned by technologies ranging from Convolutional Neural Networks, Keyword Extraction, Linguistic Analysis, Passage Answering, Question Analysis, Relationship Extraction, Statistical Language Processing to Visual Analysis.

IBM also announced the intention to create ‘industry cartridges’ that will allow businesses to quickly and easily draw upon industry specific data with unique taxonomies. In addition to the traditional forms of interactions with smart phones and tablets, the company is now working to integrate Watson into next generation robotics.

IBM Watson: Pioneering a New Era of Computing

Watson is the first open cognitive computing technology platform and represents a new era in computing where systems understand the world in the way that humans do: through senses, learning, and experience. Watson continuously learns, gaining in value and knowledge over time, from previous interactions. With the help of Watson, organizations are harnessing the power of cognitive computing to transform industries, help professionals do their jobs better, and solve important challenges.

To advance Watson, IBM has two 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, and Watson Health, dedicated to improving the ability of doctors, researchers and insurers and other related health organizations to surface new insights from data to deliver personalized healthcare.

To read more about how Watson is an incubator for startups and innovation, visit:

To read an IBM Watson Ecosystem partner story, visit

To learn more about the newest APIs, visit this post on the Watson Developer blog:

For more information on IBM Watson, visit: and

Join the conversation at #ibmwatson and #WatsonWest. Follow Watson on Facebook and see Watson on YouTube and Flickr

Related resources


Watson represents an entirely new model of computing—‘cognitive.’ It understands all types of data, it isn’t programmed, it learns. Watson has been put to work in diverse industries with clients and through an open developer platform. IBM continues to expand Watson’s abilities, enabling partners to bring their own creativity and aspirations as they build their businesses with cognitive. (Credit: IBM)

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