Founder of Silicon Hills News

Watson display at the Computer History Museum, photo by Laura Lorek

Watson display at the Computer History Museum, photo by Laura Lorek

IBM wants to make us all smarter through our smart phones by tapping into its Watson super computer database.

To do that, IBM issued a challenge back in February to app developers worldwide encouraging them to submit apps for its IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge. The apps needed to use “Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities to analyze, discover insights and learn from Big Data.” IBM developed Watson as a cognitive technology that processes information more like a human and understands natural language.

Some might consider IBM’s mobile Watson, the sage grandfather of Siri, Apple’s personal assistant available on its iPhones.

Last week, the IBM Watson team announced it has picked 25 finalists in its competition including San Antonio-based Biovideo and Austin-based 9WSearch.

Several hundred companies submitted apps in the IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge. The apps that made the cut span several categories including finance, healthcare services, news, business, fashion, education, cities and nutrition.

In the finance category, 9W Search, founded by Susan Strausberg, one of the founders of Edgar Online, submitted its app, which mines financial information online combined with Watson’s cognitive capabilities to answer complex financial questions. Its first application is in the energy industry.

IMG_2570“The ability to incorporate vast amounts of structured and unstructured primary source materials into the 9W/Watson cloud lets users ask and answer billions of complex questions through a simple, familiar interface,” according to 9W Search’s submission.
Biovideo, founded by Carlos Villasenor, made the finalists in the Health Services category. The company submitted an app that provides “the best help for new and expectant mothers at their fingertips.”

Biovideo, which operates out of San Antonio’s Geekdom, works with hospitals in Texas and Mexico to create a movie capturing the birth of a child for free for parents.

“The Biovideo App incorporates the Baby 101 searchable database for the first time and becomes the ultimate parenting tool,” according to the company. “It also eliminates geographic limitation, as the app and the Baby 101 program are available to anyone, anywhere. Providing the power of Watson to the Baby 101 program provides unlimited information, insight and reach to new parents.”

The finalists must submit prototypes to IBM, which will select five teams to present their proposals. And then IBM will choose three winners. “The three winners are awarded 90 days of access to the Watson APIs and consulting from IBM Interactive design services.”