IBM is bringing its expertise in artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive technology to Harman so the audio and video company can incorporate AI into its microphones, speakers, and audio visual equipment.
Harman, which may be best known for its car audio and video gadgets, also has a professional services division that works with enterprises to deliver connected audio-visual equipment to offices, hotels, cruise ships, and other environments.
By using IBM’s Watson Internet of Things (IoT) platform with AI cognitive capabilities, Harman can help its customers outfit conference rooms with soundbars, microphones, speakers, and AV control and switching systems that are embedded with cognitive technologies so users can ask questions or issue commands using natural language. These requests are sent to the IBM Watson Cloud which works with the Watson IoT platform to enable these in-room systems to work via voice control.
Harman is demonstrating these capabilities at IBM’s Watson IoT headquarters in Munich, Germany. Harman also will work with IBM to sell its Watson IoT platform to the company’s enterprise customers.
Harman customer Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is currently using the Watson IoT platform to connect in-room speakers that are voice-controlled. Patients at the hospital are able to operate lights and window blinds and ask questions about the hospital facilities or get background information on their doctors all by using voice-enabled cognitive technology.
Watson’s IoT Growth
IBM announced last October that it was investing $200 million to make Munich its global headquarters for its Watson IoT business. At the time, the company said it had about 6,000 customers using the platform, an increase of 2,000 customers in just eight months.
Yesterday, during IBM’s first quarter 2017 earnings call with investors, Martin Schroeter, senior vice president and CFO, said the company added 50 new clients to the Watson IoT platform in the quarter. According to the Seeking Alpha transcript of the call, he also noted that the company continues to evolve Watson by incorporating new capabilities such as payment services.
Schroeter added that many Watson IoT clients, like Harmon, are collocating to the Munich Center to work on projects.