IBM opening new computing hub in San Francisco, adds Watson developer tools

​IBM Watson is getting bigger (and smarter) each day, and now the supercomputer is moving into a new city with some new toys.

IBM Watson has become an icon of artificial intelligence. Image: IBM

Born just a few years ago, IBM Watson is getting bigger (and smarter) each day, and now the supercomputer is moving into a new city with some new toys.

Those new toys, or tools rather, consist of new capabilities for the Watson developer cloud as well as more cognitive computing APIs honing in on visual recognition.

Building off APIs already supporting facial and image recognition, the new IBM Watson Visual Insights service was designed to enable developers to build apps spewing out insights from social media images and video.

With the release of Visual Insights in experimental mode, the tech giant boasted it has grown its Watson API portfolio to over 25 offerings powered by more than 50 technologies in 20 months.

IBM is also promising to simplify the development process for Watson apps even further with the debut of the IBM Watson Knowledge Studio, a digital toolset for connecting Watson APIs and data on any form factor across cloud and mobile platforms.

But the Armonk, N.Y.-based company is moving closer to the heart of the tech industry in Silicon Valley to woo developers even further with a new footprint in San Francisco.

IBM will be opening a new hub dedicated to all things Watson and cognitive computing hub hosting an interactive lab, workshops and seminars to encourage more commercial and third-party developments.

One example of a third-party, industry-specific app that involved collaborations between IBM and culinary glossy Bon Appetit is the Chef Watson app, which was revamped ahead of a wider release earlier this year.

Pitched toward tech-savvy gourmands, the online cooking app serves up new spins on more than 10,000 recipes from the foodie bible's recipe library through a cocktail of algorithms, user preferences and well-known appetizing combinations worldwide.

Through the new regional center, IBM is hoping to spark more creativity and industry-specific apps that could bring more awareness to and expand use cases for Watson's machine learning power.

Scheduled to open in 2016, the new IBM facility will also house a few other Big Blue units, including IBM Global Business Services teams working on MobileFirst for iOS, the Cloud Ecosystem team, and the Spark Technology Center, an IBM Design Studio.