We produce data all the time, both in our personal and private lives. IBM’s analytics engine, IBM Watson, is set to transform how we process that data in our everyday lives – from how we shop, to how we take care of our pets.
What is IBM Watson?
IBM Watson is a data analysis tech platform that uses advanced algorithms, natural language processing, and machine learning to analyse unstructured data incredibly quickly, allowing the platform to learn. With 80% of all data being unstructured, any program that can quickly make sense of this can have interesting applications for many industries. In fact, it’s being used for some very “out there” ideas that you might not expect.
What can IBM Watson do?
- It can fight crime.
Eight universities across the US are running a year long research study to develop “Watson for Cybersecurity”. By feeding Watson computer security reports and data, the cloud based system will be able to learn how to identify threats and how best to counter them, with the hope of developing a truly responsive counter to cybercrime. TechRepublic
- It can help you keep you healthy
Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, UK, has partnered with IBM to develop the “cognitive hospital”. Along with helping doctors make medical decisions, Watson processes parent and patient feedback to identify problems that might cause patients undue discomfort, allowing for both pre-emptive and on-demand responses, tailored specifically to patients’ needs. CNET
There is also a range of lifestyle apps, such as Welltok’s employee app: CaféWell Concierge, which provides users with tailored healthcare advice. Welltok
On a bigger scale, Watson is being put to use countering viral outbreaks, such as the Zika Virus, in using data analysis to help develop vaccines, by monitoring clinical trials, identifying suitable test candidates, and even actively measuring the effectiveness of vaccines. techradar
- It can also help keep your pets healthy
Watson is also the basis for LIfeLearn’s Sofie app, a diagnosis and query tool for veterinarians, allowing them to quickly diagnose and identify treatments for their animal patients, who obviously can’t verbalise their ailments. Simply asking a question to the app allows it to analyse huge amounts of relevant data to craft the best estimate of what’s wrong with the animal. LifeLearn
- It can pick your outfit
Fashion Brand, Marchesa, used Watson-based analysis tools to design a dress for the 2016 Met Gala, in a process they described as “cognitive creation”, to create a “cognitive dress”. Using a colour palette and fabric selection based on Watson’s suggestions, they even incorporated cognitive processing into the weaving, as LED lights were threaded through the dress which responded to social media traffic about the dress, all analysed and processed by Watson tech. IBM
Watson tech is also being used in fashion lifestyle apps, such as The North Face’s personal shopper app, which customizes clothing suggestions purchases based on customers’ needs and preferences, even informing users what clothing might be appropriate for certain occasions. Economic Times
- It can run a hotel
In the Hilton hotel in Mclean, Virginia, USA, there is a new member of staff: a robot concierge named Connie. It’s able to answer a variety of questions on hotel services, offer travel advice, and even give tips on local attractions and dining, all thanks to a variety of IBM Watson based platforms. Information Week
- It can teach kids
The Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization that underpins the kid’s TV show, Sesame Street, has partnered with IBM to develop personalized learning applications for pre-schoolers. Constructed around a “cognitive tutor” system, the applications will be able to develop the best and most effective means to create interactive learning experiences, based not only on an individual child’s responses, but based on data analysed from thousands of others. The aim is to develop software that actively monitors a child’s progress and development, and craft teaching tools that are tailored to their specific needs. Forbes
- It can also teach adults
Professor Ashok Goel of the Georgia Institute of Technology recently introduced a new Teaching Assistant to his students. Jill Watson did all the normal TA work: updating students of work deadlines, answering queries through email correspondence, etc. But they never saw Jill Watson in the flesh, and for good reason, because Jill Watson was an AI developed by Georgia Tech researchers, based on IBM Watson technology. Apparently the project was good enough to fool all of Professor Goel’s students, which was the intention, as the project was introduced as a prank. However, since it was so successful, there could be a serious implementation of similar services very soon. The Verge
- It can pick presidents
Recently debuted at the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon, Watson Elections analyses speech content of the current US presidential candidates for mood and content, and then matches the candidate to the user. It’s still in very early stages of development, but the hope is to implement more tools, such as instant fact checking on speeches, or even projections of eventual victors. TechCrunch
- It can make you breakfast
IBM has partnered with Kellogg’s Bear Naked subsidiary to create custom granola. Users select a base ingredient for their granola, and Watson based analysis tools select ingredient suggestions that might go with it best. engadget
- It can win quiz shows
Jeopardy is one of the longest running and hardest quiz shows in America. In 2011, two of the greatest contestant ever were defeated, by IBM Watson technology. This doesn’t sound like too much of an achievement, as of course anyone, be they man or machine, with access to the internet would be expected to do better. But the structure and nuances of Jeopardy style questions (contestants are given the answers and must supply the questions), means that until now, it appeared to be beyond the means of computer intelligence systems. Watson won by a landslide. TechRepublic
This is just scratching the surface of what Watson, and data analysis as a whole can do currently. The potential is huge, and is only set to increase in the future.
Check out our mini infographic on IBM Watson uses.