Even in its infancy, you can bet that Artificial Intelligence is the buzzword that defies all others for 2016. And if you’re talking about AI, then you’ve got to talk about IBM Watson.

In layman’s terms, IBM Watson is a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data. What does that mean? Well on its own, not a lot, but the potential for IBM Watson is unfathomable – it could be the future of finance, healthcare, government; you name it.

So what can IBM Watson actual do? We’ve compiled a list of the absolute coolest things people are doing with the technology right now.

      1. Light-Up Dress at the Met Gala

IBM Watson dress

The Met Gala in New York is one of the biggest fashion events of the year, hosted by Vogue, it’s definitely the place to make a statement. Model Karolina Kurkova did just that when she stepped out in the “Cognitive Dress” the product of a partnership between design studio Marchesa and Watson.

The dress was a white design embodied with 150 LED-connected flowers. In order to create the dress, designers chose five sentiments they wanted it to express: joy, patience, excitement, encouragement and curiosity. They also compiled a dataset of current dresses in the studios collection. This information was fed to Watson (Using IBM’s Cognitive Colour Tool and Watson’s Tone Analyser API) which then dictated the colours of the LED flowers on the dress. Based on the emotional tone of the tweets tagged with #MetGala and #Cognitivedress the flowers on the dress would change colour, for example if a tweet was analysed with the emotion of “joy” then the flowers would light up in a bright rose colour.  

2. Answering Question with TED Talks

Launched last year, TED announced that is working with Watson to create a search engine for TED talks using its amazing natural language capabilities.

So instead of searching for keywords, or the name of a speaker, anybody can now search questions such as “Will more money make me happy?” and be shown segments in videos that relate to the user’s question. In fact, it can even curate a short playlist which will give you many different perspectives on the question that was asked.

TED developed this idea at the World of Watson hackathon last year, they wanted users to feel like they could serendipitously explore the world of TED Talks. Many aspects of Watson were used to create this tool, such as Concept Insights, Personality Insights, AlchemyAPI’s Concept Tagging and Entity Identification.

Try it here. 

  1. 3. Talking to Children Through Their Toys

Originally starting at a Kickstarter project, CogniToys proposed the idea of a smart connected toy that uses artificial intelligence to hold natural language conversations with children. After smashing its Kickstarter goal, the team behind CogniToys also went on to win the IBM Watson Mobile Developer’s Challenge.

The internet-connected toy uses Watson to answer questions, tell stories, tell jokes and will eventually create a unique personality over time, based on how the child interacts with the toy. It’s also an educational toy as well as a best-friend for children, it can help them learn rhyming, spelling, maths and more.

Creator Don Coolridge says, “Older kids ask it more practical questions about homework. The younger kids go for younger interactive games, where it’s more about the play and less about the education. But the education is still there.”


  1. 4. Watson and Under Armour make super fitness app

IBM Under Armour

Originally announced at CES, Under Armour and IBM Watson teamed up to provide meaningful data-backed health and fitness insights from your existing wearables and fitness apps.

Under Armour’s fitness app UA Record will be combined with a Cognitive Coaching System, which will serve as the user’s personal health consultant, fitness trainer and assistant by providing accurate advice on their schedule.

The idea is that the app will compare the user to similar anonymous members in the Under Armour Community. The Verge cited an example they saw, “…someone had logged just over five hours of sleep, and the app told him that there are 5.7 million men in the Under Armour community in his age group, and based on that group, the average body mass index is lowest among people who sleep seven to eight hours each night.”

However, the app is designed to go even further than that, like connecting with Weather apps to running distance – so your app may suggest to go running when the weather is a certain temperature because based on data, you may just run faster.


  1. 5. What does your Twitter tell you about your personality?

Another facet that has come out of Watson’s partnership with TED, is a nifty little tool that gives you an idea of someone’s personality based on something they’ve written or their Twitter output.

You can analyse anyone with a Twitter handle or if you can get hold of something they’ve written which denotes their tone of voice. We tried it out with our @e3_media Twitter below.

Watson Personality

Okay, so we’re pretty happy with that. But how about we get meta with this, what does Watson think about this blog I’ve just written?

Watson Personality

So how did Watson make this decision? It’s not giving us that information yet, but it does provide a visualisation which looks at the sentiment of the words, so it’s likely that it’s Tone Analyser is what’s reading the blog and coming up with the insight.

IMB Watson personality insights

Give it a go yourself here.

What’s next?

It’s safe to say that I imagine Watson won’t be going away anytime soon. There’s so much potential for brands, business, companies, charities, individuals, even countries etc. Here at e3 we’ve been using Watson on some of key accounts and projects. Our developers are becoming Watson experts day by day but it’s very hush hush at the moment but we’ll be sharing some of our exciting work very soon.

Not everything’s super computers though, why not check some of case studies? Or if you’re a senior brand marketer interested in innovation, why not attend our next event on June 14th.