IBM's Watson-powered voice assistant is built for security pros

The helper can provide threat data while keeping your hands free.

IBM, Flickr

If it wasn't already clear that AI-powered voice assistants are ready for the workplace, it is now. IBM is not only launching Watson for Cybersecurity, a cognitive computing service that parses legions of security reports to extract relevant info, but is unveiling an experimental voice helper to go along with it. Havyn lets digital defense experts ask for threat updates and recommended solutions when it would otherwise be too time-consuming. If security analysts are already hip-deep in work, they don't have to sidetrack themselves with a new research path when Havyn can produce a useful answer in seconds.

The combo could be particularly helpful given Watson's depth. The system has studied over 1 million security documents to brush up on the language of security, and it parses reports from sources as diverse as research papers, blogs and incident data. In theory, this cuts the total time for an investigation from days to minutes -- you spend less time interpreting info and more time working with it.

Don't expect to see Havyn in widespread use just yet. It's currently in testing with a handful of IBM analysts, and it's only four months old -- it came about when company inventor Mike Spisak and his son decided that sending text commands to Watson was cumbersome. That leaves a lot of room for Havyn to grow, however, and it's easy to imagine the assistant becoming indispensable to security pros who could quickly be overwhelmed if they're not careful.