How IBM Watson is Powering IoT Innovation in Consumer Electronics

At IFA Berlin – one of the world’s leading trade shows for consumer electronics – IBM was joined by some of the biggest names in the industry to highlight how Watson IoT technologies are poised to drive a new wave of innovation in the home and play a key role in one of the biggest technological transformations in the history of the world.

Whirlpool, Panasonic, Nokia and ‘hearables’ pioneer Bragi and 3D-printed, autonomous car Olli, joined IBM’s Global Head of Watson IoT, Harriet Green on stage at IFA. Together they highlighted the power of cognitive computing and how it’s helping deliver on the full potential of the Internet of Things: transforming our relationship with the physical world and making appliances, machines, devices, homes and cars better, safer, more intuitive and interactive.


According to Harriet Green, Global Head of IBM Watson IoT: “millions of sensors are giving appliances and devices eyes and ears, increasing their inbuilt intelligence and enabling them to interact with us better.”

“The challenge is that over next few years, the Internet of Things will become the biggest source of data on the planet. That’s where IBM’s Watson cognitive computing system comes in. Watson uses machine learning and other techniques to understand this data and turn it into insight, which can help automate tasks, enable manufacturers to design better products, innovate new services and enhance our overall quality of life – especially in the home. And with cognitive technologies, interactions with ‘things’ through natural language and voice commands will dramatically improve,” added Green during her keynote at IFA.

Examples of companies tapping IBM’s Watson IoT platform include:

Whirlpool: Enhancing Lives at Home

Whirlpool is using Watson technologies to help deliver superior customer service and enhance people’s lives at home by enabling its home appliances to connect with and interact with one another and their users.

For example, a Whirlpool washing machine will communicate directly with a Whirlpool dryer letting it know what kind of laundry load to expect and the optimum drying program to use – saving precious time and helping to reduce energy consumption in the home. Using sensors and cognitive intelligence, appliances will learn about how people use them giving design feedback to Whirlpool’s engineers and offering new levels of assistance to consumers for re-ordering detergents, filters and other supplies directly from online retailers.

“By instilling our appliances with intuitive smart home technologies we are opening up a new era of partnerships in the home”, said Norbert Schmidt, Vice President Product and Brand Whirlpool EMEA. “These purposeful innovations will enhance the quality of life while optimizing energy efficiency and allowing people to spend more time doing the things they love.”


Panasonic: Creating Smarter, Safer Homes

Panasonic is also exploring how Watson’s unique machine learning and natural language processing capabilities can help transform the services it provides to consumers – giving them greater peace of mind knowing that their homes are comfortable, safe and secure.

One of the areas in focus is home safety and security where Panasonic’s security cameras and sensors to detect movement, glass breakage, door and window opening, will be coupled with Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities. Thanks to video analytics, a home security system would know not to react if the neighbours’ children are just fetching their football, but will automatically alert the police or security services if likely intruder tries to scale a fence to enter the property.

“At Panasonic, we are committed to offering our consumers a more comfortable and better life,” said David Tuerk, Panasonic’s European General Manager for Smart Home. “Enriching our smart home technology solutions with Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities will enable us to offer more secure, smart homes, residents ensuring the well-being and safety of residents – especially more vulnerable family members such as the elderly and young children.


Nokia: Transforming Healthcare

More connected homes are safer homes for vulnerable family members especially the elderly. Cognitive and IoT technologies are opening up new opportunities for the discreet monitoring and care of elderly and sick people at home.

IBM and Nokia are exploring opportunities to integrate IBM Watson IoT with Nokia wearables and smart devices for home care. Their goal is a system that helps to detect and alert caregivers to potential problems such as: deviation from daily routines, abnormal vital signs and sudden changes in the home environment. Voice activated interfaces in the home will be able to take simple commands (such as ‘call an ambulance’) and offer reminders to take medicines or turn off appliances. The companies are also jointly exploring the role of predictive analytics to learn from historical data, spotting correlations, which can then be used to predict future issues and trigger actions for carers. This includes leveraging the Nokia IoT management platform to keep track of the millions of devices that will be added to networks from new healthcare applications alone.

“Wearables, smart devices and conversational interfaces are game changes in health care,” said Cedric Hutchings, GM Nokia Health. “They help to create a broad ecosystem of ‘collaborators’ including family, caregivers, hospitals, employers, insurers and emergency service providers who work together to ensure vulnerable individuals can stay in their homes as long as possible. IBM’s cognitive computing helps to ensure optimum levels of care in the home and enables carers to make the best possible decisions. This must be built upon a reliable, smart, fast, ultra-broadband network which is at the heart of what Nokia does for customers. Working with companies like IBM, Nokia aims to make very technical solutions around cloud, 5G, SDN and IoT seem easy and seamless to users.”

Bragi: Putting the Power of IoT into the Ear

Bragi – an early pioneer in the hearables market – has turned to IBM to help develop innovative business solutions for the workplace. The company’s smart earphones, The Dash, are some of the world’s most powerful micro-wearable computers with 27 unique sensors that can measure a user’s vital signs while augmenting their communications and interactivity. With Kickstarter funding, Bragi has already successfully launched The Dash onto the consumer market for sport and recreation.

Now, tapping the language translation and speech-to-text capabilities of IBM’s Watson IoT platform, Bragi plans to apply its hearable technologies to transform the way people interact, communicate and collaborate in the workplace. The vision is for users to use the headset to receive instructions, interact with co-workers and enable management teams to keep track of the location, operating environment, wellbeing and safety of workers. The two companies are even looking into how head gestures could enable users to respond to instructions or send commands for simple tasks such as turning the page in an instruction manual during hands-on or dangerous tasks.

“Hearables will transform the way we work and have a tremendous impact on the business processes of the future,” said Nikolaj Hviid, CEO and founder of Bragi. “The Dash is uniquely equipped to realize the potential of truly contextual audible computing. We are very excited to tap IBM’s industry leading cognitive computing capabilities through the Watson IoT platform as well as benefit from IBM’s enormous experience in global innovation that touches people’s lives.”