Programming robots to play poker in one summer with Watson

By | 2 minute read | June 17, 2016

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This summer, the IBM Watson team invited the six of us to join them at the Research Triangle Park campus to embark on an adventure.  The adventure?  Take these robots, make them play poker, and show the usefulness of the Watson services on Bluemix.  With that said, we are really excited about this project and all that it has to offer.  We intend to keep you up to date on our progress as we move through the summer through this blog and various social media outlets with pictures, videos, and a number of short tutorials.

The Main Focus

Although our project is to make robots play poker, our main focus is to demonstrate the power of the Watson Developer Cloud.  We were all blown away when we found out how simple and easy it was to use the APIs on Bluemix to do things like natural language classification, text-to-speech, speech-to-text, visual recognition, and much more.  The hard part, as is usually the case, is coming up with an idea.  We want to inspire others to be creative and make use of these services.  To do that, we will be sharing everything we’ve been doing with the robots in a series of blog posts.  To make it even easier, we will be publishing coding tutorials alongside the blog posts demonstrating the Watson APIs in action working standalone and combined with other services.  Are you interested yet?

The Robot

We will program and using the NAO Humanoid Robot from SoftBank Robotics to play poker.  NAO is not only capable of taking in input from its microphones and camera, but it can also be programmed to speak and interact with its environment through gestures and its ability to pick up and grab objects.  NAO makes it easy and really cool to show off some of the Watson services, but we know that most people will not have access to this type of robot, so we will be focusing our tutorials on how the services may run on a simple computer.

Places to Get Started

What is Bluemix — Learn more about Bluemix and how other developers are using it.

Watson Developer Cloud — Get more information about the APIs and services offered by Watson and how to use them.

Bluemix Resources — Check out how others are using Bluemix and get sample code to get started.

Moving Forward

It’s still really early for Watson and it’s already capable of doing so many mind-blowing things.  We plan to publish a new blog post on our progress with the robot every two weeks with photo and video updates posted to various social media accounts in between.  Also, we plan to share a number of tutorials on using the various Watson services, so keep an eye out for those along the way.  We are really excited to see where we can take this project!  If there’s anything you would like to see us cover, let us know and we will do our best to accommodate.

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