March 18, 2016 | Written by: Srinivas Cheemalapati
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Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the term “cognitive” as “of, relating to, or involving conscious mental activities (such as thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering.”
Attendees at the 2016 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, experienced what “cognitive” means firsthand when visiting the IBM Cognitive Studio, an entire building dedicated to showcasing solutions and capabilities built using IBM Watson services and the IBM Bluemix platform. The variety of interactive cognitive solutions on display created an immersive experience for visitors from the time they entered the studio to the completion of the tour.
Over five days, thousands of developers, designers, entrepreneurs and businesspeople from all walks of life lined up, even enduring the occasional rain shower to get in on the experience.
Each visitor was greeted by Pepper the robot, a colorful character with a personality of its own. Guests received a “smart” sensor tag to use at each demo station to tailor their experiences to their interests and personalities. At the mosaic table, for example, attendees could use the tag to match their Twitter bios to their own celebrity personality “twins.” Then they could take a break at the bar, where Chef Watson crafted original cocktails based on the “celebrity twin” data.
The liquid courage prepared guests for a battle with Marvin, another robot, who challenged them to fierce games of rock, paper, scissors. Attendees fought hard, but Marvin’s use of Apache Spark and Bluemix to make predictive moves based on historic data it collected over the course of the game ensured the bot would come out on top.
Visitors also had the pleasure of diving into predictive analytics and virtual reality at arcade stations. The serious games on display used cognitive services such as dialog, personality insights, tone analyzers, IoT, predictive analytics, natural language processing, and Bluemix.
Attendees collected insights on lots of topics, including how the Weather Company fills gaps by providing localized weather forecasts national services can’t provide. They also learned about the gamification of education, a particular point of interest for many SXSWedu entrepreneurs, healthcare providers and teachers. Many commented on the huge opportunity to bring together cognitive services to improve user experiences and boost knowledge retention.
At SXSW, IBM gave visitors an entertaining glimpse into the future. The thoughtfully immersive and thought-provoking showcase offered an insider’s view of what’s new and encouraged attendees to build what’s next.
View the demos for yourself or to learn more about how IBM is leveraging cognitive to make a smarter world.