How and Why Companies Are Incorporating the Power of IBM Watson

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How Watson helps animate virtual assistant avatars

Soul Machines is a developer of intelligent, emotionally responsive avatars that augment and enrich the user experience for artificial intelligence (AI) platforms. IBM Watson provides the Cognitive AI platform that allows users to directly interact with its emotionally responsive avatars. Together, they developed a virtual assistant for Australia's National Disability Insurance Agency.

Named Nadia, the virtual assistant is able to speak, write and chat online with people with disabilities. Academy Award winner and CEO of Soul Machines, Mark Sagar and his team, developed the emotionally intelligent (EI) avatar technology that provides Nadia with her human-like face and emotionally responsive expressions. As the Soul Machines team explained, "Nadia’s natural language capability is powered by IBM Watson’s Conversation system and is trained by capturing question variants and linking them to an intent. Combining a human face and voice with cognitive and emotional intelligence, in a system co-designed by the disability community, is a world first – and has resulted in the unique language and personality model that people with disability want and need."

IBM Watson was introduced to the average person years ago when the cognitive computing platform went up against game show Jeopardy’s most famous contestant, Ken Jennings – and won big.

However, IBM Watson is much more than a trivia buff. Today, according to IBM, Watson represents a new era in computing called cognitive computing, where systems understand the world in a way more similar to humans: through senses, learning and experience. Watson continuously learns from previous interactions, gaining in value and knowledge over time. With the help of Watson, organizations are harnessing the power of cognitive computing to transform industries, help professionals do their jobs better, and solve important challenges.

"Innovation in natural language processing and artificial intelligence is creating opportunities for consumer marketers to better identify and communicate with their customers," said Andy O’Dell, chief strategy officer at Clutch, a marketing technology company. "In retail, IBM Watson has the capabilities to transform how marketers understand and relate to these shoppers. Watson, for example, can take a sample of a consumer’s social media post over time and use this to predict the customer’s age, education level, and even their emotional characteristics. It can assess a customer’s unique personality across 50 distinct facets of personality like extroversion, risk aversion or agreeableness just based on these posts."

Here are other ways IBM Watson is being used across different companies and industries.

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