IBM Will Fund Mobile App Developers Using Watson

IBM To Choose Three Winners and Provide Seed Funding for Their Businesses

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Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO
Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO

IBM promised to pump more than $1 billion into its newly-created Watson Group recently, and now it's looking for a few good mobile app developers to help get the cognitive computing technology into consumers' phones.

At today's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the company promoted its Watson Mobile Developer Challenge, soliciting app developers to submit mobile app ideas based on Watson over the next three months. IBM will choose three winning teams and provide seed funding for their businesses, said IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty at the event.

"We will help commercialize, help go to market for these companies," she said.

At this stage, IBM has focused on working closely with partners and tech firms to apply Watson's growing body of data for retail, medicine, financial services and travel uses. Tech consultancy Fluid began creating on a personalized ecommerce platform prototype for The North Face, for instance.

Digital health company Welltok also developed an app built on Watson that helps patients manage health programs and rewards them for reaching customized goals. China's Ministry of Rail's mobile ticketing technology also got a Watson-based reroute, said Ms. Rometty.

IBM's Watson technology gained recognition when it outwitted "Jeopardy!" champions in 2011. The company made the data-parsing system available in May to clients for CRM, customer call centers and other purposes under the Watson Engagement Advisor name. At the time, IBM also planned to apply Watson to improve measurement of ad effectiveness and media planning.

The company made a splashy foray into the Silicon Alley tech scene with its recent occupation of 51 Astor Place in the heart of New York's East Village. At the same time IBM touted its $1 billion investment into Watson and transition of the system into a full-fledged division.

IBM wants competing mobile developers to use its developer tools and educational materials available in its Watson Developers Cloud.

"The third era are things that learn. You teach and they learn," said Ms. Rometty.

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