Cognitive technology creativity at Mobile World Congress 2017

By Rob High

When you think of technology enhancing human capabilities, more often than not, you’re likely to look to big industries like healthcare, retail and finance. But what about the arts? This year, at Mobile World Congress 2017, I got the opportunity to throw myself straight into the fire to show people how cognitive technology can be used to extend the capabilities of the other side of the brain.

Cognitive technology in the kitchen

The kitchen isn’t new to Watson. Chef Watson was trained by Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) chefs and about 9,000 recipes from the archives of Bon Appétit. It’s been a while since its inception, so we wanted to see how the best chefs could work with Chef Watson to push the boundaries of their creativity and re-imagine their menus.

This thought brought us into the kitchen of Michelin star chef, Carles Abellán. Trained at El Bulli, Carles Abellán is an icon in modern Catalan cuisine. With Watson, he and his team were able to extend their expertise by exploring quintillions of flavor combinations to find new ingredients to add to classic Catalan dishes. A peach Bloody Mary oyster, gazpacho with kimchi, and a lamb belly braised in beer were some of the flavor combinations that inspired Chef Abellán. Not only that, with cognitive technology, Chef Abellán was able to create a cognitive experience to speak to the context of his diners — some of Mobile World Congress’s biggest influencers.

Watch Chef Abellán and me cook with Watson on Facebook Live.

Dinner with Watson

Cognitive creativity isn’t just good for creators. It’s good for customers. We saw this in the dinner party that followed our cognitive cooking session with Chef Abellán. This cognitive experience brought together some major industry players, from founder of Vinesleuth/ Wine4.me Amy Gross to CEO of Finnovating, Rodrigo Garcia Cruz. We also had health technologist Alex Butler from The EarthWorks, and Avanlee Okragly, VP of SimpleC, at the table.

With this meal, they were able to connect to the city of Barcelona, experience new forms of technology and discover major trends across industries. Here’s some of what we talked about:

  • With cognitive technology, businesses are pushing the boundaries of personalization by contextualizing experiences for each and every customer.
  • Cognitive, cloud-based platforms are keeping your data private yet empowering that private data with open data.
  • In the growing IoT era, cognitive technology is helping businesses collaborate across devices with this highest level of security.

The First Thinking Sculpture

Away from the kitchen and at the heart of the Mobile World Congress 2017 exhibition floor was another display of cognitive creativity — the First Thinking Sculpture. Architectural designers from SOFTlab worked with Watson to create a sculpture to keep iconic Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí’s legacy alive with data. They fed Watson hundreds of images and articles around Gaudí. From that, Watson identified potential materials, shapes and colors for the installation. And it didn’t stop there. At the event, Watson analyzed real-time conversations around #MWC17 and manipulated the sculpture with the social sentiment around each trending topic.

A cognitive Catalan-inspired menu and the First Thinking Sculpture prove that anything is possible in a cognitive era. We’re seeing, first-hand, that with cognitive technology, people are understanding more information than ever to do what they do better. It’s a true partnership between man and machine and it’s only the beginning. Let’s just say, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what Watson’s working on for Mobile World Congress 2018.

Written By

Rob High

IBM Fellow, VP, CTO Watson, IBM Academy of Technology

Rob has responsibility for the application of deep natural language processing in inferring answers from massive quantities of unstructured information. He leads IBM Watson technical strategy and thought leadership by working collaboratively with engineering, research and development…

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