Since 2014 Apple and IBM have been working with clients to usher in a new era of smart enterprise. The latest collaboration offers companies interested in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) a chance to be a part of the next big shift in enterprise mobile intelligence — by bringing the power of IBM’s Watson AI services and Apple’s machine learning framework, Core ML, to native iOS apps. IBM Watson Services for Core ML delivers native iOS apps that give developers access to vast amounts of data, both on their device and through the cloud. This means that users can access information and deep insights directly on their iPhone or iPad, even when it’s not connected to a network.
The Coca-Cola Company is always innovating across their technology landscape, and AI is a key focus area. When presented with the opportunity to explore the value of IBM Watson services and machine learning, they quickly engaged. With the Coca-Cola emphasis on quality, they are currently partnering with IBM, working on prototypes for how IBM Watson Services for Core ML may transform in-field capabilities. Initial functionalities being analyzed are visual recognition problem identification, cognitive diagnosis and augmented repair. Early exploration is promising, and Coca-Cola and IBM continue to determine next steps.
Challenges in the field
Field technicians are deployed to service and repair beverage dispensing machines at restaurants and venues around the world. Once on site, the tech must be able to diagnose and correct an enormous array of problems, relying ultimately on their personal expertise and experience. If the system is not one the technician is familiar with – an uncommon water filter, for example – then routine repairs can become frustrating and time-consuming. Adding to the challenges, many sites are in remote or rural locations with no data connectivity, meaning no access to support, and therefore limited ability to make repairs. In these cases, the tech would need to spend time searching through informational databases, product manuals, and might even need to call in or consult with a colleague or specialist – resulting in lost productivity and prolonged system downtime.
Enter Watson Services for Core ML
With the AI capabilities of IBM Watson and Core ML, relevant information is put directly into a tech’s hands the moment she needs it, allowing her to resolve the issue quickly. Coca-Cola used Watson Services for Core ML to build an app that leverages visual recognition and augmented reality to identify equipment issues, diagnose problems, and troubleshoot repairs.
Through the app, the tech can use their iPhone or iPad camera to diagnose system problems via a virtual overlay and guided instructions pulled from the cloud, with zero latency, and even in areas with no network connectivity. Watson Visual Recognition on the device helps the technician identify older or poorly differentiated systems, or unfamiliar parts, and pinpoint the problem right away. Then, Watson Discovery Service helps identify possible solutions for the specific systems and type of malfunction.
Using ARKit, an iOS framework with resources to help create augmented reality experiences for the iPhone and iPad, developers are able to integrate apps with augmented reality models that help the technician solve complex problems on less-familiar systems.
As the technician is working on the job, data is captured. That data is then sent to the cloud once the device is back on the network, so Watson can learn from the interaction and make the learning available to other technicians in near real-time. Using the guided repair system, the technician is empowered to solve the problem the first time, increasing productivity, and elevating customer service – all without needing to call for assistance or reschedule the repair.