IBM Enabling the transition from smart factory to cognitive factory

Editor: Barbara Schulz

United States/Germany – In his paper “Man-Computer Symbiosis”, L.C.R. Licklider advocated in 1960 the construction of computers capable of working symbiotically with humans.

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IBM's Plamen Kiradjev explains how the company's cognitive system, Watson, works by means of a project with agricultural equipment manufacturer John Deere.
IBM's Plamen Kiradjev explains how the company's cognitive system, Watson, works by means of a project with agricultural equipment manufacturer John Deere.
(Photo: Schulz)

Since that time, many of the advances that he envisioned have been achieved. Now, we are entering a new period of computing history: the cognitive computing era.

Cognitive computing offers fundamental differences in how systems are built and interact with humans. Cognitive-based systems, such as IBM Watson, are able to build knowledge and learn, understand natural language, and reason and interact more naturally with human beings than traditional systems. Watson collects data and finds correlations and patterns used to create insights to shape future actions, in much the same way as the human brain.

While Watson still has to learn German, the system could be seen live at the company's booth in Hall 8 at Hannover Messe. IBM's Plamen Kiradjev and Ralf Buksch showed journalists a demo about a project with agricultural equipment manufacturer John Deere which uses Industry 4.0 technologies to help optimise the production of tractors at John Deere's manufacturing plant in Mannheim, Germany. The system analyses data from sensors to increase John Deere's manufacturing flexibility while minimising errors. What is more, the system allows for error prevention instead of condition monitoring and advises staff how to fix a problem, just by analysing a photo taken of the respective machine/area.

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