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IBM will open up Watson to app developers in 2014, the company announced on Thursday.
Watson is a supercomputer that thinks and speaks like a human. It's the computer that won Jeopardy in 2011.
IBM is making Watson even more human, CEO Ginni Rometty said last month. It will soon be able to "see" meaning it can look at pictures or X-rays and understand them. Then it will be able to "reason," meaning argue and debate with a human.
But the very next step is turning the supercomputer into a cloud that will host developer apps. That's why IBM is launching the Watson Developers Cloud.
These might be apps that tap into Watson's brain to work with a company's own data. Or it might be apps that uses Watson's already huge library.
For instance, Watson is currently a medical know-it-all that has "ingested 2 million pages [of medical information] and understands medical language," Rometty says.
There's already a couple of Watson apps in the works:
- A retail app called Fluid, which turns Watson into a personal shopper that can chat about your purchases;
- an app called MD Buyline, which helps medical professionals buy health care equipment;
- and an app called Welltok, a health and fitness coach.
IBM will even help developers find venture capitalist funding, it says.
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