IBM’s Watson: Coming Soon to a Smartphone Near You

The world’s smartest computer could soon power an array of mobile apps.

Remember Ken Jennings? He is the software engineer who won $3,172,700 on Jeopardy. He and fellow Jeopardy millionaire Brad Rutter famously lost to IBM’s Watson in a February 2011 matchup (video below).

You can imagine just how powerful a computer needs to be to process natural language and respond to unstructured queries faster than some of the world’s smartest human beings. Now, IBM wants to bring the power of Watson to consumer smartphones, so it is sponsoring a contest to collect ideas and will then help the winners build what could be the world’s smartest app:

The first phase will narrow the field to 25 finalists. Those finalists will receive access to the Watson API and sandbox so they can build a prototype to be judged in the second phase. From there, the top 5 finalists will pitch their concepts to a panel of IBM judges in a live session. The judges will then determine three winners who will have IBM mentoring support and sandbox access to build the next Watson-powered app.

IBM is accepting submissions until March 31, 2014.

To give you an idea of just how powerful the technology is, Watson is already helping doctors make decisions about cancer treatments. Don Melanson explains on Engadget:

IBM, along with WellPoint, Inc. and Memorial Sloan-Kettering, have today announced what they describe as the "first commercially developed Watson-based cognitive computing breakthroughs." More specifically, they've developed a system that allows Waston to draw on a wealth of medical information and quickly provide evidence-based treatment recommendations to doctors.

And we do mean a wealth of information; as IBM explains, Watson has spent the last year digesting more than 600,000 pieces of medical evidence and two million pages of text from 42 medical journals, and it has the ability to parse some 1.5 million patient records covering decades of cancer treatment history.

The potential for governments to use this technology in law enforcement, 311 and libraries is endless. Whose idea will win out? Enter here. And check out Watson taking on Ken Jennings, below.

<p>Credit: IBM</p>
Feb 27 2014