Tag: IBM

Biovideo and 9W Search Selected as Finalists in IBM’s Watson Mobile Developer Challenge

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Watson display at the Computer History Museum, photo by Laura Lorek

Watson display at the Computer History Museum, photo by Laura Lorek

IBM wants to make us all smarter through our smart phones by tapping into its Watson super computer database.

To do that, IBM issued a challenge back in February to app developers worldwide encouraging them to submit apps for its IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge. The apps needed to use “Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities to analyze, discover insights and learn from Big Data.” IBM developed Watson as a cognitive technology that processes information more like a human and understands natural language.

Some might consider IBM’s mobile Watson, the sage grandfather of Siri, Apple’s personal assistant available on its iPhones.

Last week, the IBM Watson team announced it has picked 25 finalists in its competition including San Antonio-based Biovideo and Austin-based 9WSearch.

Several hundred companies submitted apps in the IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge. The apps that made the cut span several categories including finance, healthcare services, news, business, fashion, education, cities and nutrition.

In the finance category, 9W Search, founded by Susan Strausberg, one of the founders of Edgar Online, submitted its app, which mines financial information online combined with Watson’s cognitive capabilities to answer complex financial questions. Its first application is in the energy industry.

IMG_2570“The ability to incorporate vast amounts of structured and unstructured primary source materials into the 9W/Watson cloud lets users ask and answer billions of complex questions through a simple, familiar interface,” according to 9W Search’s submission.
Biovideo, founded by Carlos Villasenor, made the finalists in the Health Services category. The company submitted an app that provides “the best help for new and expectant mothers at their fingertips.”

Biovideo, which operates out of San Antonio’s Geekdom, works with hospitals in Texas and Mexico to create a movie capturing the birth of a child for free for parents.

“The Biovideo App incorporates the Baby 101 searchable database for the first time and becomes the ultimate parenting tool,” according to the company. “It also eliminates geographic limitation, as the app and the Baby 101 program are available to anyone, anywhere. Providing the power of Watson to the Baby 101 program provides unlimited information, insight and reach to new parents.”

The finalists must submit prototypes to IBM, which will select five teams to present their proposals. And then IBM will choose three winners. “The three winners are awarded 90 days of access to the Watson APIs and consulting from IBM Interactive design services.”

Rod Canion Recounts How Compaq Fought IBM and Won

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BiAY_NfCYAAsek-A true life David vs. Goliath story played out in the early days of the PC industry-pitting upstart Compaq Computer against industry behemoth IBM Corp.

Rod Canion, co-founder of Compaq, recounted the tale during a conversation Wednesday night with Brett Hurt, Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Texas. The Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency sponsored the event as part of its UTEWeek.

In the early days of the PC industry, PCs became open architecture machines because IBM, the number one computer company in the world, put a skunkworks team in Boca Raton, Florida and ordered them to create an IBM PC in one year.

That IBM team created the first IBM PC, which debuted in 1981 based on open architecture including Intel’s microchips and Microsoft’s DOS operating system.

“The point is everything that went into the original IBM PCs was off the shelf,” Canion said.

IBM expected they would sell thousands, Canion said. They sold millions and became the leader in the PC industry.

“The PC, as a product in business, was just starting to catch on,” Canion said.

The must-have software application of the day was VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet that created the driving force that caused PCs to permeate businesses in a short amount of time, he said.

Around that time, Canion and his co-founders left Texas Instruments looking for a product to start a company with because they knew the PC industry would explode creating great opportunity. They wanted to create a rugged, portable PC.

“But it almost died before it started because I had enough experience to know we couldn’t get software adapted to it,” Canion said. He knew VisiCorp would never provide its software to a startup.

That’s when Canion came up with the idea of creating a portable computer that would run software written for the IBM PC. They would create compatible software. In 1982, they put together a four page business plan and a few weeks later they landed venture capital from Kleiner Perkins, Silicon Valley’s premier VC firm.

“In about five weeks, from the conception of the idea to when we started the company, we were off and running,” Canion said.

They thought they would be able to buy an operating system from Microsoft to run on the computer. They found out that was wrong. They figured out a way to take what Microsoft did have and fix the incompatibilities in 12 months so they could run IBM’s software, Canion said.

The sewing-machine sized Compaq portable was the first 100 percent IBM-compatible PC and the first portable one.

BiAg9TnCUAA7u2yIn January of 1983, when Compaq Computer shipped its first PCs, they essentially ran all of the IBM PC software, Canion said. Then the company licensed its modified version of MS-DOS back to Microsoft for it to sell to all of the rest of the industry.

“That’s the point where the industry standard really began,” Canion said.

That’s when a large number of computer companies began to run all the same software, Canion said. By 1987, IBM, Compaq and about a dozen other strong brands in the compatible arena accounted for 75 percent of the PC industry. Apple had been relegated to a niche.

“This powerful industry standard had really taken hold,” Canion said.

IBM didn’t like the idea. They came out with a proprietary product, PS2 and they offered their competitors the ability to buy a license by paying 5 percent of royalties. Dell and others began to buy licenses from IBM to the PS2. But Compaq didn’t give up.

Nine months later, they came up a competitive advanced architecture to IBM that would run all of the old software. Canion said they knew if it was IBM vs. Compaq they would still lose.

“IBM’s brand was too strong,” he said.

Instead, Compaq put together an alliance with Microsoft, Intel and HP to compete against IBM. Compaq was going to give its technology to all of the other companies. Eventually, they got seven other companies to sign on and became known as the gang of nine. By September, they held a press conference, and by then they had gotten 80 companies behind the new standard, essentially the whole industry everyone but IBM and Apple behind the Open standard, Canion said.

Four years later, Compaq passed IBM to become the industry leader in PC sales. But more importantly, the company got an open architecture PC standard adopted that led to lower prices and more consumer choice, Canion said.

A few years later, Compaq passed the $1 billion mark in annual revenue, the first company to hit that milestone so quickly.

Canion provides more details on Compaq’s challenge to IBM in his new book “Open: How Compaq Ended IBM’s PC Domination and Helped Invent Modern Computing.” He signed copies of the book following his talk.

IBM Unveils New Design Studio in Austin

10712872813_e7cc2ee457_n IBM Wednesday unveiled its new product design studio in Austin, which will focus on designing software for a global audience.
The 50,000 square foot studio will serve as the center for IBM’s software efforts in Big Data, cloud, mobile, social software and cognitive solutions.
IBM designed the space to encourage collaboration and to bring together designers, developers and product managers involved in creating new software products.
“This studio is the embodiment of a new approach to software design. It is the home of IBM Design Thinking, a broad, ambitious new approach to re-imagining how we design our products and solutions,” Phil Gilbert, general manager, IBM Design, said in a news release. “Quite simply, our goal — on a scale unmatched in the industry — is to modernize enterprise software for today’s user who demands great design everywhere, at home and at work.”
IBM already hosts a one-week training camp at its studio called “Designcamp.” So far, it has held more than 60 camps.
IBM is also recruiting design experts from top design schools nationwide.
This week, IBM released its first commercial product, InfoSphere Data Explorer, using its IBM Design Thinking initiative.
In addition to the Austin Design Studio, IBM’s Austin campus also has research and development labs, SmartCloud Innovation Center, Watson Solutions, cloud and smarter infrastructure teams and IBM Security Systems.

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