How can IBM Watson help you deliver an overhead smash?

In the part one of this article we looked at how innovative IBM cognitive technologies have revolutionised the world of tennis. In part two we will discuss what we can learn from the IBM technology deployed at Wimbledon, and discover how it can be applied to everyday business applications.

Wimbledon is deploying innovative, cognitive technology, IBM Watson, to provide an awesome viewing experience. By collating, analysing and interpreting disparate data from social media and facial recognition from the on-site crowd, it can provide feedback on the viewers’ real-time reactions throughout the match. In addition, Watson leverages IoT technologies so it can map a player’s athleticism to their performance and help provide insight on their strategy. Data obtained from Watson IoT is fed into the Cognitive Command Centre, which provides context around the game and enables the commentators to deliver a fan experience that’s as good as sitting court-side.

But how is IBM Watson able to deliver results that are out of this world?

IBM Watson: a radically new kind of computing

Back in the 1940's, computers were programmed based on rules and logic, intended to drive mathematically precise answers, which followed a rigid decision tree approach. However, with the crazy growth of big data, there’s an increasing need for more complex, evidence-based decisions. A traditional approach just isn’t suitable, as rigid systems are prone to breaking, or fail to keep up with all the available information. To make big data work, we need something new, something capable of the unthinkable, something that is able to process information like a human brain.

IBM knew that using cognitive technologies would unlock the valuable insights hidden inside big data sets, so it developed Watson in a way that enabled the technology to mirror the processes our brains use to develop expertise. Creating Watson in this way meant the system is able to reason problems like a human does, employing the four key stages our brains use to solve complex issues:

  1. Observe the situation.
  2. Interpret all the available data.
  3. Evaluate the different options.
  4. Determine and provide optimal future actions.

However, unlike a human brain, Watson is able to perform these processes at lightning speed and on a massive scale. It does this by managing unstructured data, (very often data created by humans, for direct human consumption) . Unlike traditional computing systems, Watson doesn't read text by identifying keywords like a search engine does, it applies true cognitive functionality to determine meaning. It does this by breaking down a sentence grammatically, relationally and structurally to discern meaning from the sentences. It also differs from speech recognition software because it can understand context by trying to see the real intent of a user’s language, rather than taking the words at face value.

Discover more about how IBM Watson works.

The concept is revolutionary. IBM has created a technology which will transform not only business but the way in which we interact with technology on a day to day level. In part one of this article, we saw how Wimbledon is using Watson to great effect, but what other applications could this cognitive technology be applied to?

Other sports-related applications
Probably the most obvious application is in other sporting arenas. Already you’ll see the American Football Association leveraging IoT technologies to enhance their players’ performances. Using tiny sensors on their clothing, the coaches can centrally manage the entire team, quickly recognising if a player needs to be rested, or perhaps even injured. so they can swap out the play accordingly.

Now the Olympics have kicked off in Rio. Just imagine how thrilling it would be if the commentators were able to weave real-time feedback from fans across the world into their coverage of the events, and the boost it would give the competitors to know their home country were cheering them on, even if they couldn’t hear their cries of support from the arena.

Transport is essential to our daily lives, whether that is helping to deliver goods up and down the country ready for our consumption, or driving a family on vacation. Despite both legislation and education on road safety, transport related accidents are still tragically common. However, IBM Watson has the potential to change this. Using facial recognition, Watson can be used to determine if the driver is tired or sluggish and would be able to alert the driver if they were flagging.

This has the potential to help many people reach their destinations safely, from taxi drivers across the country working late into the night to salesmen driving the length and breadth of the country to visit clients and those commuting to work or taking our kids out for a weekend of fun. Watson has the potential to make the lives of those who travel safer.

The social media analysis employed at Wimbledon can also be applied to the retail sector, as shoppers can use Watson to analyse Social Media feeds to enhance the retail experience. For example, let’s imagine that you are purchasing a gift for a colleague’s birthday. You can use Watson to analyse their Twitter feed, to determine against a number of personality factors, what type of gift they would like. For example, Watson can determine if your colleague is a little more introverted than extroverted and so may prefer something understated as opposed to loud or flamboyant.

Alternatively, Watson could be used to reduce the problem of processing returns for items instore that they have purchased online. According to a recent study, 33% of online transactions are eventually returned. Using cognitive systems, retailers can vastly improve their marketing tools. Watson quickly learns how to understand individuals, which means that when a consumer logs onto a retailer’s online shopping portal, they can receive appropriate recommendations based on their buying history, brand and style preferences.

Cognitive health
Incredibly, the average person is likely to generate more than one million gigabytes of health-related data in their lifetime, that’s equivalent to 300 million books. It’s pretty unsurprising then that by 2020, medical data is expected to double every 73 days. IBM Watson brings together individual, clinical, research and social data from a diverse range of health sources, to create a secure, cloud-based sharing hub, which is powered by one of the most advanced cognitive and analytics technologies.

Watson has the potential to provide huge benefits to the field of health; from reaching remote regions, to matching suitable patients to clinical trials and allowing researchers to draw deeper insights from massive volumes of data to help develop better treatment. Already there are some GPs trialling the use of IoT technologies for long-term health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and obesity. By being able to remotely monitor patients, we can be more sensitive to their needs, and provide more effective treatment .

Ok, this last one is a bit out there but I’m so impressed that I can’t not share it with you: Pokemon Go. It may be the latest craze to hit the world, but one developer has utilised Watson to develop an app that enhances the experience for Pokemon players. Hooked by the game himself, he’s integrated the power of Watson to help track and hunt down rare and valuable Pokemon across the world, and then broadcast this to players so they can go and find them.

See his story.

Get involved

There are a vast array of possibilities for integrating IBM Watson, and other IBM technologies, into everyday solutions. Like our Pokemon fanatic, all you need is an awesome idea, we’ll help you do the rest. At the IBM Innovation Centre in Hursley, we have the skills, knowledge, expertise and resource to help bring your innovations to life.

Discover more about the IBM Innovation Centre at Hursley.