IBM to open up Watson to third-party developers

Enterprise users may get more Siri-like apps if developers flock to IBM's Watson cloud platform.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer on

IBM plans to open up its Watson supercomputer to developers, who will be able to build applications that make use of its 'cognitive computing' power.

Watson, which famously beat human rivals at the question and answer game-show Jeopardy in 2011, has more recently been studying medicine to tackle personalised healthcare and working with banks and research firms to develop a data crunching service to improve customer service functions and marketing intelligence. Other application IBM has been considering include the discovery during litigation.   

For the next phase of Watson's journey, IBM plans to open it up to app developers, providing an API and developer kit so that third parties can build applications that draw on Watson’s ability to understand questions and crunch data to deliver the right answers.

According to a statement provided to Bloomberg, the IBM Watson Developers Cloud will give developers access to development resources, data from third-party providers and support from IBM and contractors.

From next week, developers will can file requests with IBM to use the service. No pricing details are available yet, however, an IBM spokesperson told Bloomberg that apps that rely on the service will be charged on a metered usage model.

An app set to launch next year on the Watson cloud is Hippocrates, from MD Buyline, that will help clinical and financial users make real time decisions. 

IBM's Rob High told PC World that developers familiar with RESTful APIs should find it easy to work with Watson.

IBM recently published details about a prototype healthcare app that show how apps that use Watson might look. As it notes, the prototype app runs on a tablet so that the doctor can refer to the patient's electronic records and query IBM Watson while seeing the patient.

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