Automotive and industrial supplier Schaeffler, based in Ehningen, Germany, is just one of the customers that underscores IBM's move to center its IoT efforts in Munich. Schaeffler on Tuesday announced a multiyear strategic partnership with IBM focused on the digital transformation of its entire operations and customer solutions via Watson and IoT.
"Our goal is to be the world's leading manufacturer of cognitive solutions which keep the world moving," Peter Gutzmer, deputy CEO and CTO, Schaeffler, said in a statement Tuesday. "We are entering an age where parts can monitor and evaluate their own performance and even order their own replacement when necessary. Schaeffler is a world leader in product development and manufacturing, IBM in hybrid cloud and cognitive computing; through this partnership, we are ushering in the new industrial era."
Schaeffler specializes in precision-engineered components for machines — from parts in automotive clutch systems to the industrial bearings used in wind turbines. With the help of Watson IoT, it plans to build virtual models that represent entire industrial systems. The models will be fed by data from millions of sensors and devices across its operations to enable new approaches to product design, manufacturing and aftersales service.
To the northwest of Munich, in the Netherlands, is another Watson IoT customer: Aerialtronics, a designer and producer of unmanned aircraft systems for industry. Aerialtronics drones leverage cognitive computing capabilities from the IBM Watson IoT Platform on IBM Cloud to provide inspection services ranging from monitoring city traffic patterns to inspecting wind turbines, oil rigs and cell tower optimization.
The drones use Watson Visual Recognition analytics to understand what they're seeing, like loose or frayed cabling and damaged equipment that could impair telecommunications quality.
"By pairing the unmatched perspective of drones with the proven power of Watson IoT solutions, companies can gain actionable insights into anything, anywhere and use this knowledge to help drive important business decisions," Jeremy Wigmore, CEO of Aerialtronics, said in a statement Tuesday.
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Even with its center of gravity in Europe, the Watson IoT unit is still winning business in IBM's U.S. backyard. A prime example is Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, a 957 acute care bed facility in Philadelphia that's part of Jefferson Health. IBM is working with the hospital to launch cognitive hospital rooms powered by Watson IoT. Patients in these rooms can talk to in-room speakers connected to the IBM Watson IoT Platform, allowing them to control lights and window blinds with natural speech. They can also ask questions about hospital facilities or get background information on their physician.
While consumers have gotten a rudimentary taste of speech recognition through services like Apple's Siri or Microsoft's Cortana, Greenstein says Watson IoT allows the cognitive hospital rooms to parse complex sentences rather than predetermined commands. They can even continue simple conversations. For instance, a patient might ask about the temperature. Upon getting a response, Greenstein says the patient might continue, "That's too hot. Make it cooler."
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