Last month, IBM opened a new global headquarters for its Watson Internet of Things (IoT) unit in Munich. At the launch, the company made a series of announcements – including new offerings, capabilities and partners – with the aim being to extend cognitive computing into the rapidly evolving IoT world by deploying IBM’s Watson IoT Cloud platform.

“The IoT will soon be the largest single source of data on the planet, yet almost 90% of that data is never acted upon,” said Harriet Green, general manager, Watson IoT and Education. “With its abilities to sense, reason and learn, Watson opens the door for enterprises, governments and individuals to harness real-time data, compare it with historical data sets and then find unexpected correlations leading to new insights.”

Speaking to New Electronics prior to the event, Bret Greenstein, VP of IoT for IBM, explained: “Cognitive computing is a new class of systems that are capable of learning at scale, can reason with purpose and interact with humans naturally. Rather than being explicitly programmed, these devices learn and reason from their interactions with us and from their experiences with their environment, enabling them to keep pace with the volume, complexity and unpredictability of information generated by the IoT. Business is being transformed around companies by the rise of IoT and everything is happening at a compressed timescale.”

The decision to base the operation – the company’s largest investment in Europe in more than two decades – in Munich was driven by the depth and breadth of opportunities provided by the German market.

“While the IoT is everywhere,” Greenstein explained, “Industry 4.0 started in Germany and businesses here have played an important part not only in leading innovation but in terms of standards and market leadership.

“Munich provides IBM with a centre of gravity and a chance to bring the best minds in Europe together in one location.” The Munich site will also be the home for IBM’s first European Watson innovation centre.

According to Greenstein: “This new campus will bring together IBM developers, consultants, researchers and designers to drive deeper engagement with both clients and partners. It will also serve as an innovation lab for data scientists, engineers and programmers, who will be working to deliver connected solutions at the intersection of cognitive computing and the IoT to create new opportunities for growth.”

IBM is also opening eight new Watson IoT Client Experience Centers across Asia, Europe and the Americas. The centres are located in Beijing, Boeblingen, Sao Paulo, Seoul and Tokyo, as well as in Massachusetts, North Carolina and Texas.

These centres are intended to provide clients and partners with access to the technology, tools and talent needed to develop and create new products and services using cognitive intelligence delivered through the Watson IoT Cloud Platform.

IBM also unveiled four families of Watson API services that are being made available as part of the company’s Watson IoT Analytics offering.

These include: the Natural Language Processing (NLP) API Family, which enables users to interact with systems and devices using simple, human language; the Machine Learning Watson API Family, which automates data processing and monitors new data and user interactions to rank data and results based on learned priorities; a Video and Image Analytics API Family; and a Text Analytics API Family that can mine unstructured textual data, including transcripts from customer call centres, maintenance technician logs, blog comments and tweets to find correlations and patterns in these vast amounts of data.