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IBM focuses on cloud and edge action with embeddable AI extension

Technology developed for IBM Watson seeps into consumer projects for IBM partners.

Exterior view of IBM sign at IBM Canada headquarters on May 16, 2018 in Markham, Ontario, Canada.
Image: JHVEPhoto/Adobe Stock

IBM has announced three new libraries in its “embeddable AI” product book, aiming to bring the power of AI from the cloud to the edge more easily and seamlessly.

Do you remember IBM Watson? The darling of trade shows a handful of years ago is now trickling down to broader commercial applications. By reverse engineering the Watson AI engine, IBM can bring its AI solutions to different scales and use cases that organizations need. Their capabilities can extend to a mobile device or to the remote location served by an edge server.

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“The pace of AI innovation we’re seeing across the industry is incredibly fast. Our partners want to be able to build new features and solutions with advanced AI, but most organizations cannot support the skills, time, cost and infrastructure needed to build AI models from scratch,” said Sriram Raghavan, vice president of IBM Research AI, told TechRepublic.

By combining the work of IBM Research with open source technology, software vendors and their development teams will have the flexibility to run AI from on-premises to the edge, Raghavan said.

Three new IBM libraries

All three libraries will be available to IBM Ecosystem partners. They provide a simpler roadmap for building natural language processing, speech-to-text and text-to-speech capabilities using AI in applications in any hybrid, multicloud environment.

Exporting the same libraries that power IBM Watson products should, IBM says, accelerate AI projects that would otherwise require a lot more manpower in terms of building machine learning and AI models from scratch. Ideally, the system provides a bridge for organizations when they struggle to find skilled workers with AI experience.

With IBM Watson Natural Language Processing, developers can teach AI to read sentiment, intent, meaning and context from human language. The IBM Watson Speech to Text library takes this to the next step with the ability to perform fast, accurate speech transcription for customer service applications. Finally, IBM Watson Text to Speech converts written text into natural spoken words for a variety of languages ​​and voices.

“Through these new libraries we give our [independent software vendor] Provide partners and their development teams an easier way to build and scale AI solutions with pre-trained models and runtime orchestration — providing a stepping stone to more powerful AI,” said Raghavan.

IBM’s AI Partnerships

These aren’t the first products IBM spawned from its internal work on Watson. Applications such as IBM Watson Assistant, Maximo Visual Inspection, and IBM Watson Discovery, an AI-powered business content analysis tool, all come from the same family tree.

IBM has also turned its AI partnership business into a science. Partner organizations use their AI for marketing, customer interactions and investment plans. The tech giant is also shuffling around the way it offers training and skill, opening internal badges and selling support materials to partners. More and more organizations are working to balance the needs of human workers by shifting technology such as AI to skills.

“Helping our customers integrate and leverage capabilities such as sentiment analysis will be invaluable in driving real-time analytics to help them better understand, engage and serve their customers,” said Yatharth Gupta, senior vice president of products at SingleStore, an IBM Watson Natural Language Processing Partner, in a press release.

To learn more about AI products, see how to capture data preparation for machine learning, what business leaders think of AI, and our guide to AI software products.

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