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IBM’s Watson IoT Center in Munich Gets $200 Million Infusion

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What innovations await at the intersection of the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain? IBM plans to find out.

The Armonk, NY-based IT giant announced this week that it intends to invest $200 million in its new Watson IoT headquarters in Munich, Germany. Among the areas IBM will pursue is connecting Watson IoT to blockchain, the distributed database technology that helps make cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin possible.

Businesses, particularly those in financial technology (fintech) circles, are keeping a close eye on blockchain. By its very nature, the technology highly resistant to tampering and fraud – blockchain-based ledgers are decentralized and immutable – traits enterprises hope will help streamline and secure countless workloads, from banking transactions to healthcare records management.

Now IBM is combining blockchain with its Watson IoT platform to create private blockchains that will help businesses to securely share IoT data while reducing costs and simplifying operations. Already, a Finnish economic development company called Kouvola Innovation is using the IBM Watson IoT Platform to track IoT-enabled shipping containers, IBM reported.

Kouvola Innovation isn’t the only Watson IoT customer. Others include Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, Aerialtronics, a Netherlands-based maker of unmanned aircraft systems, and German industrial equipment supplier Schaeffler.

According to IBM, 6,000 customers have flocked to the solutions suite, up from 4,000 eight months ago.

“IBM is making tremendous strides to ensure that businesses around the world are able to take advantage of this incredible period of technological transformation and develop new products and services that really change people’s lives,” said Harriet Green, global head of IBM Watson IoT, in a statement. “Germany is at the forefront of the Industry 4.0 initiative and by inviting our clients and partners to join us in Munich, we are opening up our talent and technologies to help deliver on the promise of IoT and establishing a global hotbed for collaborative innovation.”

In addition to Watson IoT and Blockchain, IBM announced a new Natural Language Interface for the development of voice interfaces and a new developer resource called the Cognitive IoT Cookbook, complete with sample code.

IBM is also rolling out new IoT Security Solutions and Services designed to help businesses protect their IoT devices from attackers. And not a moment too soon.

Recently, famed security researcher Brian Krebs was struck by a massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. The flood of bogus traffic was generated by over a million video cameras, set-top boxes, video recorders and other internet-connected devices.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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