Watson was always going to be more than just a successful game show contestant. Now, the computer is about to take on anything and everything, as it opens itself up to the public on the cloud.
IBM has announced that its supercomputer will be opened up to developers in 2014, using a new, open API that will allow people to write code which can directly take advantage of Watson's natural language abilities. Developers will be able to ping Watson complex strings of questions and get answers in real time.
It's not the first time IBM has thought about putting Watson on the cloud, but it is the first time the developers will have had (virtually) free reign over the way the computer is used. You'll still need to contract an instance of Watson from IBM, but that's pretty much it.
According to IBM, the API itself is pretty straightforward. Questions can easily be sent to Watson, processed with natural language algorithms, and sent back with links to relevant content from the supercomputer's database.
Three partners already have contracts which will use the API, including one which will, err, bring a Watson-powered personal-shopping feature to The North Face's website. Guys, I think we can stretch him further. Get on it. [Computerworld]