Watson APIs

Driving Innovation: Corporations such as IBM have enabled access to their Cognitive Computing and AI algorithms

We all hear about the wonders AI and Cognitive Computing can bring to our lives, but how does this work? Do large corporations take responsibility to develop and research on potential applications?

Thankfully, corporations such as IBM are allowing anyone to use their algorithms without publicly exposing the algorithms themselves. This access is provided through the use of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that allow developers to understand the data they will provide to the algorithms, and what data will be returned by the algorithms. This way the algorithms are kept secret, while the developers can trust that the algorithms work (as in a black box where you put in something and you get something else).  The use of APIs allows companies to share heavily researched and tested algorithms without giving away all their work. The public can then use the capabilities of the algorithm, commonly using a paid model based on usage.

IBM is providing a complete toolkit for a variety of AI and Cognitive services such as Visual Recognition, which helps understand contents of images, Personality Insights, that help understand different characteristics and needs of people to help engage users, and Language Translator, that detects the language of the text entered and translates to a selected language. These are only some of the services provided by IBM for public consumption through APIs. These publicly available technologies can be consumed by a variety of startups and innovators can test and build their own AI powered applications to solve problems within their community.

I have built a few applications to use the powerful capabilities these APIs provide and have always been amazed.

One of my notable applications was about using Meta’s AR glasses to build a fruit and vegetable recognition app, that provides multiple recipe suggestions to users. IBM’s APIs helped in visual recognition of fruits and vegetables, and in providing translations for users.

Some time back, I wanted to experiment with the idea of using Chat bots to help students understand Stanford better. I used a Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS) tool from Microsoft Research to develop models and better classify and interpret the questions. I also used LUIS to build a dataset of possible answers, and was amazed how well it worked. These tools when available to developers, help improve them as their AI processes our data and becomes more intelligent. These are especially beneficial to developers who cannot afford to research or build even parts of these services themselves. It was great to test the finished bot and see that it was able to answer basic questions despite language distortions.

Let’s explore how these services are being used in public settings. Wimbledon has a gathering of half a million fans every year, and All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) wanted to better enrich their experiences. IBM has implemented many technologies to help drive a better consumer experience, including deploying a Chatbot for Wimbledon to help Tennis Fans get their questions answered.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this particular business model on outsourcing APIs for low cost based on usage, and also the capabilities brought to the hands of everyone who seeks to build an innovative solution to existing or emerging challenges.


  1. https://www.ibm.com/watson/developercloud/doc/index.html
  2. http://www.research.ibm.com/cognitive-computing/
  3. https://www.ibm.com/blogs/watson/2017/06/ibm-watson-at-vivatech-2017-ai-trends-new-watson-powered-startups-and-more/
  4. https://www.ibm.com/blogs/watson/2017/01/cognitive-ai-technologies-interactive-guide-businesses-already-using/?cm_mmc=OSocial_Twitter-_-Leadership+Agenda_IBM+Watson+Core-_-WW_WW-_-2017+Tech+Trends+Report&cm_mmca1=000007CG&cm_mmca2=10002922
  5. https://www.ibm.com/blogs/watson/2017/07/ibm-watsons-ai-is-powering-wimbledon-highlights-analytics-and-a-fan-experiences/
  6. https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/cognitive-services/
  7. http://www-03.ibm.com/software/products/en/api-connect
  8. Image Source: https://developer.ibm.com/dwblog/wp-content/uploads/sites/73/dwblog-chatbotseries-850×425.png

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2 comments on “Driving Innovation: Corporations such as IBM have enabled access to their Cognitive Computing and AI algorithms”

  1. MS&E 238.
    This blog explained to me of how the IBM’s AI and cognitive services helped and enhanced the wide application of apps usage for new developers. Many of the services and databases that big companies provide aided both private and public uses in the form of customer experiences and a more convenient style of daily life. Meanwhile, both of the privacy of the customers and the developers of the app would be protected by the blackbox which definitely constructed a useful and secure method for nowadays developments. I got a better understanding of how the cognitive and AI services help us in reality. Thank you for sharing your insights and actual uses of these services.


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  2. Thank you Arshin for sharing some examples on how AI can be used. It was insightful to see different use cases and technical capabilities of AI and Cognitive Computing.


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