'Reinvented' IBM Announces Clients in Consumer Electronics Industry

Big Blue is not a big player in the consumer electronics industry, but IBM's CEO, Ginni Rometty, says that is about to change.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Jan 07, 2016

IBM has traditionally been focused on enterprise hardware and massive business systems. But now, the company is eyeing a new source of revenue:. You. And me. And what the tech giant's CEO, Ginni Rometty, counts as the "millions, if not billions," of other consumers who are using the products and services comprising the Internet of Things.

During her keynote address to a packed room at the Consumer Technology Association's CES conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Rometty announced that IBM is partnering with three major enterprises—active apparel brand Under Armour, medical technology firm Medtronic and SoftBank, a Japanese provider of telecom and Internet services—on projects that leverage IBM's computing capabilities.

IBM's Ginni Rometty
IBM has invested approximately $30 billion to develop its analytics capabilities via its Watson platform. Watson mines large stores of data using artificial-intelligence tools, such as pattern recognition and natural language processing, to perform what the company calls cognitive computing.

Many of IBM's enterprise customers in the industrial IoT space, including Airbus, are using Watson to run analytics for a range of applications. Now, IBM wants to help makers of consumer-facing products leverage that analytical power as well. "With wearables, sensors [and connected] cars, data is everywhere," Rometty told the thousands of attendees at CES—many of whom are launching IoT products or have done so in recent years. "But what will differentiate you is understanding that data."

Through this new focus on the IoT sector in the consumer realm, Rometty said, "you'll see a reinvented IBM emerging."

Under Armour is utilizing Watson's cognitive computing power to analyze information collected in Record, the fitness app it launched last year that culls data from an astounding 160 million fitness-device users.

Users passively send fitness and sleep data to Record via their wearable devices. Record can collect data from all major brands of fitness trackers, including those offered in Under Armour's new Healthbox product—a $400 kit featuring a connected weight scale, an activity tracker and a separate heart-rate monitor. Users can also upload information regarding nutrition and, through a connected scale, their weight. A new addition to the app lets a user rate how he or she is feeling each day on a scale of one to ten. Using Watson, Record will be able to help users set fitness or weight goals, Under Armour's CEO, Kevin Plank, told the crowd. What's more, it will even suggest taking a day off from the gym if Watson determines that a user has been excessively stressing his or body.

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