IBM Watson is ‘betting big’ on the Internet of Things, announcing slew of brand partners at opening of IoT Towers in Munich

IBM has opened its Watson IoT Centre in Munich

IBM’s artificial intelligence division Watson is today (16 February) demonstrating its play to become a leading tech player in the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution, with the opening of a $200m IoT global headquarters in Germany and a raft of new brand partnerships.

Located in the north of Munich, the Watson IoT Centre will act as a collaboration hub for IBM and its clients and partners to innovate in the cognitive connected space.

John Kelly, senior vice president for cognitive solutions and research at IBM, explained at the opening press conference that Munich was chosen for its central European location and “the great industry that goes on here”.

He said: “We don’t just see it as a home, we see it as a living lab. We’re not only building great things here but we’re using this facility itself in all its great wonder as an example of IoT – in sensing and managing what goes on here.”

A number of brands have announced the collocation of teams to the centre, namely Avnet, BNP Paribas, Capgemini and Tech Mahindra. The hub will also provide the European IoT standards organisation EEBus with an innovation space.

IBM Watson IoT has also announced a number of high-profile partnerships, one of the biggest being with Visa. The deal hopes to create up to 20 billion new devices for Visa in the next five years by enabling the embedding of payment and commerce tech into any device connected to the internet, highlighting that consumers may soon be able to complete purchases with ‘a ring, an appliance or a car’.

Companies will be able to integrate payments into their product lines through a Visa Token Service – a new piece of security tech that will replace account information (currently found on payment cards) with a unique digital identifier.

Appliances brand Bosch has also come on board as a Watson IoT collaborator, while IBM has partnered with crowdfunding platform Indiegogo and Arrow Electronics to ‘fuel the next generation of IoT startups’. Qualified Indiegogo entrepreneurs will get free access to the Watson IoT platform, while Arrow will provide them with up to $500,000 in technical support.

Harriet Green, general manager of IBM Watson IoT, said: “We’re betting big … this is one of the largest investments IBM has made over the last two decades and we see 2017 as a pivotal year where we can really see these outcomes [of IoT] and begin to scale them across the different sectors of society.

Katie Deighton

Katie Deighton is The Drum’s senior reporter - creative and video based in London. She produces, films, presents and edits the title’s editorial video output, including series such as On The Scene, Ad Breakers and Why I Left Advertising, and manages its coverage of the creative sector. She also reports on the intersection between politics and marketing, as well as the third sector and fashion.

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