10 IBM Watson-powered apps that are changing our world

IBM is investing $1 billion in its IBM Watson Group with the aim of creating an ecosystem of startups and businesses building cognitive computing applications with Watson. Here are 10 examples that are making an impact.

IBM Watson-Powered Apps
Credit: Thinkstock
10 IBM Watson-Powered Apps That Are Changing Our World

IBM considers Watson to represent a new era of computing — a step forward to cognitive computing, where apps and systems interact with humans via natural language and help us augment our own understanding of the world with big data insights.

Big Blue isn't playing small ball with that claim. It has opened a new IBM Watson Global Headquarters in the heart of New York City's Silicon Alley and is investing $1 billion into the Watson Group, focusing on development and research as well as bringing cloud-delivered cognitive applications and services to the market. That includes $100 million available for venture investments to support IBM's ecosystem of start-ups and businesses building cognitive apps with Watson.

Here are 10 examples of Watson-powered cognitive apps that are already starting to shake things up.

[ Feature: 8 Big Trends in Big Data Analytics ]

USAA and IBM Watson
USAA and Watson Help Military Members Transition to Civilian Life

USAA, a financial services firm dedicated to those who serve or have served in the military, has turned to IBM's Watson Engagement Advisor in a pilot program to help military men and women transition to civilian life.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 155,000 active military members transition to civilian life each year. This process can raise many questions, like "Can I be in the reserve and collect veteran's compensation benefits?" or "How do I make the most of the Post-9/11 GI Bill?" Watson has analyzed and understands more than 3,000 documents on topics exclusive to military transitions, allowing members to ask it questions and receive answers specific to their needs.

[ Also: 5 Big Data Projects That Could Change Your Life ]

ANZ and IBM Watson
ANZ Global Wealth and Watson Help Financial Planners Improve Their Advice

ANZ Global Wealth, the private banking arm of Australia and New Zealand Global Banking Group, has given more than 400 financial planners access to the Watson Engagement Advisor to help them deliver an improved advice process, aiming to reduce the time it takes for customers to receive a statement of financial advice from weeks to a single session. For now, Watson focuses on helping financial planners in the areas of insurance and protection, but ANZ plans to expand it to cover the full wealth strategy, including superannuation and investments.

[ Related: Watson Could Boost Confidence of Financial Industry ]

MD Anderson and IBM Watson
MD Anderson and Watson Undertake "Moon Shots" to End Cancer

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has tapped IBM Watson in a mission to eradicate cancer. MD Anderson's Oncology Expert Advisor is powered by the Watson cognitive computing system and is designed to integrate the knowledge of MD Anderson's clinicians and researchers. Starting with leukemia, the Oncology Expert Advisor will help clinicians develop, observe and fine-tune treatments for patients.

The Watson technology will play a key role in streamlining and standardizing the longitudinal collection, ingestion and integration of patients' medical and clinical history, laboratory data and research data into MD Anderson's centralized patient data warehouse, and then link it and make it available for deep analyses by advanced analytics.

[ More: Cleveland Clinic Uses IBM's Watson in the Cloud to Fight Cancer ]

Mayo Clinic and IBM Watson
Credit: Thinkstock
Mayo Clinic and Watson Tackle Clinical Trial Research

Mayo Clinic is leveraging Watson in a proof of concept to more quickly and efficiently match patients with appropriate clinical trials. At any given time, Mayo Clinic conducts more than 8,000 human studies. But many clinical trials, both at Mayo Clinic and elsewhere, aren't completed because they lack sufficient enrollment.

IBM and Mayo Clinic are expanding Watson's corpus of knowledge to include all clinical trials at Mayo Clinic and in public databases such as ClinicalTrials.gov. They are also training it to analyze patient records and clinical trial criteria to determine appropriate matches for patients.

[ Analysis: Paging Dr. Watson, IBM's Medical Adviser For the Future ]

Johnson & Johnson and IBM Watson
Johnson & Johnson and Watson Give R&D Discoveries a Makeover

Johnson & Johnson is teaching Watson to read and understand scientific papers that detail clinical trial outcomes used to develop and evaluate medications and other treatments. With this knowledge, Watson Discovery Advisor can help scientists identify genetic profiles that respond to drug samples without any adverse side effects.

In the past, comparative effectiveness studies have been performed manually, requiring three people to spend an average of 10 months just to collect the data and prepare them for use before they can start analyzing. In this study, the Johnson & Johnson team hopes to teach Watson to quickly synthesize the information directly from the medical literature, allowing them to start asking questions about the data immediately.

[ Research: C-Level Executives Seeing Big Results From Big Data ]

Bumrungrad and IBM Watson
Bumrungrad Hospital and Watson Improve Cancer Care

Bumrungrad International Hospital in Thailand has recruited Watson to improve the quality of cancer care at is medical center in Bangkok and case evaluation at referral offices in 16 countries on four continents.

Bumrungrad has made a five-year commitment to using IBM Watson for Oncology, developed with Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK). The system will help doctors use medical evidence, published research, the extensive clinical expertise of MSK and each patient's profile to plan the most effective treatments for cancer patients.

[ More: Can Watson Cure Cancer? ]

WayBlazer and IBM Watson
WayBlazer and Watson Redefine the Travel Experience

Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity and founding chairman of Kayak.com, knows a little bit about the online travel industry. His newest project, WayBlazer, is the first start-up powered by Watson. WayBlazer is a travel concierge that lets customers ask natural language questions. WayBlazer links places, offers and preferences with social, cultural and economic data to recommend targeted travel insights and commerce offers.

"WayBlazer makes sense of the information overload and presents it to consumers as a personal travel concierge," Jones says. "Travel suppliers from destinations and hotels to airlines and rental sites can use WayBlazer to provide a one-stop solution with personalized recommendations, accelerating the pace and frequency of online bookings."

[ Related: Academics Propose Groundbreaking Uses for Watson ]

Red Ant and IBM Watson
Red Ant and Watson Train Retail Sales Employees

Red Ant, a specialist in enterprise mobile apps for retailers, has based its Sell Smart app on Watson's cognitive computing technology. The mobile app serves a retail sales trainer that lets employees identify individual customers' buying preferences by analyzing demographics, purchase history and wish lists, as well as product information, local pricing, customer reviews and tech specs.

Its corpus of knowledge includes product information, copybooks, manuals, customer reviews and more. Employees can use voice or text in a simple question-and-answer interface to access these insights.

[ How-to: Use Big Data to Stop Customer Churn ]

SparkCognition and IBM Watson
SparkCognition and Watson Implement Next-Gen Security Analytics

SparkCognition is the first "cognitive security analytics" company. It has created a Cognitive Security Insights (CSI) app with Watson to process data to deliver advanced cyber threat defense. Working with IBM, SparkCognition has trained Watson on a security-focused corpus that includes product manuals, threat research, configuration best practices and similar relevant content. The aim is to allow the Watson-powered CSI app to think like a security expert.

One of SparkCognition's early adopter clients, ExamSoft, uses CSI to reduce the costs associated with false positives, incorporate automated learning systems in the organization that retain critical knowledge and enable intelligent detection and remediation.

[ More: IBM Looks to Outsmart Big Data Competition With Watson ]

LifeLearn and IBM Watson
LifeLearn and Watson Transform Veterinary Care

LifeLearn, which specializes in mobile solutions for the animal health industry, is working with Watson to transform how veterinarians access and interpret structured and unstructured information. Its Watson-powered mobile app, Sofie, crowd sources data from content providers such as the American Animal Hospital Association and Western Veterinary Conference, as well as industry-leading practices such as The Animal Medical Center in New York City and the Ontario Veterinary Group and Associate Veterinary Clinics.

Veterinarians using the app can ask Sofie a natural-language question as they would ask another colleague in the room. Sofie will then scan hundreds of thousands of pages of medical resources in seconds to return relevant, evidence-based treatment options tailored to a specific patient.

[ Related: IBM Uses Watson as Part of Cloud-based Research Service ]