The Power of Watson goes Mobile

headIn the relentless pursuit towards ever more interactivity with their personal devices consumers are demanding increasingly intelligent apps that can instantly provide advice and uncover deep insights available on demand at any-time and any-place.

The answer to this challenge might lie in combining the power of cognitive computing with mobile devices and IBM is making moves to help – at the Mobile World Congress Exhibition is late February they announced a new developer contest to propagate innovation and accelerate mobile app development on its Watson cognitive computing platform.  

IBM’s Watson cognitive computing innovation represents a new class of services, software and apps that analyse, improve by learning, and discover answers and insights to complex questions from massive amounts of disparate data – big data.

Several hundred submissions across a wide range of industries have been narrowed down to 25 finalists (including Financial Services and Healthcare) who will use Watson to build, train and test their apps. After the finalists submit prototypes for judging 5 teams will present proposals to IBM. Then the three winners will be awarded 90 days of access to the Watson API’s and consulting from IBM Interactive design services.

Watson is a cognitive technology that processes information more like a human than a computer – by understanding natural language, generating hypotheses based on evidence and learning as it goes. And learn it does. Watson gets smarter in three ways: by being taught by its users, by learning from previous interactions and by being presented with new information. This means that organisations can more fully understand and use the data that surrounds them and use that data to make better decisions. Extending this power to consumers on their mobile devices has the potential to enable a leap forward in intelligent interactivity.

Watson represents an initial step into cognitive systems which is a new era of computing using programmatic computing plus the combination of three capabilities which make Watson unique:

  • NLP – Natural Language Processing
  • Hypothesis Generation
  • Evaluation

Although none of these are by themselves unique to Watson the combination delivers the power to move forward beyond programmatic computing to unlock the world of global, unstructured data.

In February 2011, Watson defeated Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings in the US Jeopardy Challenge. Not connected to the internet, to play the challenge Watson had to answer questions posed in every nuance of natural language using data it had amassed through years of interaction and learning from a huge set of unstructured knowledge.

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