Enterprise IT/Software

How is IBM using the Watson supercomputer to improve your shopping?

Software CBR Staff Writer

14:18, April 24 2014

Say hello to Fluid Expert Shopper, the cloud-based shopping assistance solution.

IBM is using its own Watson supercomputer to develop a personal shopper for you.

The company has invested an undisclosed sum in digital commerce company Fluid, under which it will develop a personal shopping application leveraging the cognitive computing capability of its Watson supercomputer.

Both the companies will create the cloud-based shopping assistance application, called Fluid Expert Shopper, which will answer queries from shoppers with the expertise of in-store sales associates, as well as provided personalised advice.

The new app is expected to be interactive enough to understand the context of shoppers' queries right through to the customer's mobile phone - where Cortana, Microsoft's voice assistant, is already competing with Apple's Siri and Google Now.

IBM hopes that Watson's ability to interact with people by understanding natural language and generating hypotheses based on evidence and learning, will lead to customers getting the right advice.

Fluid Expert Shopper can use Watson's understanding of natural language to identify clues from the user's question suggesting a particular solution.

Fluid XPS will use data from Watson regarding brand's product information, user reviews and online expert publications to provide right recommendations.

IBM Watson Group senior vice president Mike Rhodin said by tapping into IBM Watson's cognitive intelligence, Fluid is infusing the personalised, interactive feel of an in-store conversation into every digital shopping interaction.

"This is what positive market disruption looks like, and it's a key example of how a new era of cognitive applications will revolutionize how decisions are made by consumers and businesses alike," Rhodin said.

Fluid CEO Kent Deverell said both the companies are keen to involve consumers in this new era of computing.

"An era in which people no longer type best-guess keywords into a retail website's search box and hope for meaningful results; instead people ask specific questions based on explicit needs and get expert, personalized, information-driven responses to guide buying decisions," Deverell said.

"This is the same experience we have in real-world stores with great sales reps every day and is what's missing from digital retail."

Of late, IBM is trying to expand the use of Watson supercomputer, which was designed to answer questions asked in natural language and which gained fame after it beat human contestants on the US television quiz show Jeopardy in 2011.

In January the company announced plans to spend about $1bn to create a new business unit for its Watson supercomputer as it looked at new ways to create growth.

In 2013, IBM had launched its Watson artificial intelligence technology as a development platform in the cloud, which will allow other software developers to develop new apps leveraging cognitive computing intelligence.


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