IBM Watson is well-known for being one of the smartest AIs on the market, but it’s one that has been largely forgotten thanks to Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant. IBM isn’t going down without a fight, however. The technology company has now announced the launch of the Watson Assistant.

This isn’t a brand-new smart assistant, in fact technology fanatics may already know is components as Watson Conversation or Watson Virtual Agent. However, when users find the Watson Assistant on their devices, it’s likely that they won’t even realise that it’s there. That’s because this is a smart assistant designed to be invisible, with developers being given the ability to brand the service whatever they want, while still using the power of the Watson AI.

IBM’s white-label approach to the Watson Assistant means that it could be infinitely more useful in the custom installation sector. It enables installers to develop personalised smart assistants for their client’s home, and fill Watson with all the data that is relevant to the user. That data is also completely localised, meaning there isn’t any large technology company, like Google and Amazon, feasting on that information.

The Watson Assistant should be familiar to most users, as it will offer the same conversational style that they have become accustomed to with Alexa and the Google Assistant. The only difference is that they can set the wake word, and it should be even more personalised than those catch-all assistants. Building a smart home or building with the Watson Assistant is going to be a lot more labour intensive, however.

Bespoke Solution Required

When connecting an Amazon Echo or Google Home to a smart home or building, it’s easy to link it straight up to all the gadgets located within range. That means the device will automatically recognise when there’s a Philips Hue lighting system, or a Crestron control panel located within the home. If it doesn’t, then there’s a wealth of ‘Skills’ available for both platforms. With the Watson Assistant, everything has to be manually programmed – and that requires extensive knowledge.

The other problem comes from the availability of the Watson Assistant. There’s no dedicated smart speaker to simply install in users’ homes, meaning a custom-built system will have to be built. That shouldn’t be too difficult, considering the custom install industry is all about bespoke solutions, but as an industry, is it possible to build a smart speaker better than what’s already on the market?

That’s not to say that interacting with the Watson Assistant will be solely achieved through custom solutions. IBM has partnered with Harman to build a voice assistant for a Maserati concept car, while a Pepper robot at Munich airport will also be equipped with the system. In the residential sector, Chamelon Technologies will be using the Watson Assistant to power its smart home meter.

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