Cognitive Cooking: Inside IBM's Watson Food Truck

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2014-03-14 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

IBM has begun putting the original Watson technology to work in industries ranging from health care to financial services to retail. The system is expert at combing through vast amounts of information and delivering insights to help people make decisions. Now, with projects like the Watson food truck, IBM is continuing to expand the scope of cognitive computing systems to demonstrate another aspect—the ability to create new things. The IBM Watson food truck made its debut at the IBM Pulse conference in Las Vegas last month and has moved on to the South by Southwest (SXSW) event in Austin, Texas. Going from making inferences about the world to generating new things the world has never seen before is a next step in cognitive computing. Researchers set out to explore this in the culinary field, collaborating with professional chefs at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York to develop strategies to implement computational creativity in the culinary arts. By codifying culinary knowledge into mathematical terms a computer can understand, Watson uses algorithms to determine the precise chemical structure of food and why people like it, enabling it to suggest new combinations of ingredients that are both scientifically flavorful and surprising. The goal of this research is to push computing to new fields of creativity, demonstrating this with designs for novel, high-quality food combinations that can tackle the challenges faced by society and the food industry.

 
 
 
  • Cognitive Cooking: Inside IBM's Watson Food Truck

    by Darryl K. Taft
    1 - Cognitive Cooking: Inside IBM's Watson Food Truck
  • Cognitive Cooking at SXSW

    At this year's SXSW, the IBM Watson food truck served up exotic delicacies that were created through collaboration between Watson, a cognitive computing system, and award-winning chefs at New York's Institute of Culinary Education (ICE). 
    2 - Cognitive Cooking at SXSW
  • IBM Watson Food Truck Chefs

    Capitalizing on Watson's encyclopedic knowledge of food chemistry, existing recipes and information about why people like certain foods and cooking styles, ICE chefs James Briscione and Michael Laiskonis took recipes generated by Watson and prepared them for event attendees to sample. In this image, ICE Creative Director Laiskonis is making pudding.
    3 - IBM Watson Food Truck Chefs
  • Voting on Dishes

    Both visitors to the IBM Watson food truck and the public voted on dishes they wanted made. Using the #IBMFoodTruck hashtag, users picked from a list of dishes, and the ICE chefs and IBM researchers turned the top-trending ideas into one-of-a-kind dishes that were served the next day.
    4 - Voting on Dishes
  • IBM Watson Food Truck Brain Trust

    The Watson food truck is an example of IBM's ongoing efforts to push the boundaries of technology and explore new applications for cognitive computing. The project demonstrated, in a common language for everyone—food—the ability for machines to collaborate with people to create new things. In this image, IBM chefs and scientists devise a new recipe at the IBM food truck during SXSW.
    5 - IBM Watson Food Truck Brain Trust
  • IBM Gains Cognitive Experience

    This example of cognitive computing is just the beginning of groundbreaking advances in this new era of computing. What is learned from the research will lay the groundwork for how this technology is applied to other domains (beyond food) where design and discovery are key, and offer the opportunity to transform customer experience. These are big data challenges, and Watson is the answer. In this image, chef Michael Laiskonis and IBM scientist Florian Pinel discuss the day's activities at SXSW.
    6 - IBM Gains Cognitive Experience
  • The User Interface

    This is a screenshot of the IBM Watson Cognitive Cooking User Interface. It shows the early steps of creating a Watson-inspired dish. After answering questions about primary flavor/ingredient, type of cuisine and type of dish, step 4 is about adjusting ingredients.
    7 - The User Interface
  • IBM Pulse 2014

    The IBM Watson food truck made its debut on the show floor at the IBM Pulse 2014 cloud computing conference in Las Vegas last month.
    8 - IBM Pulse 2014
  • Chefs at IBM Pulse

    ICE chefs James Briscione (left) and Michael Garrett after a day of cooking in the IBM Watson food truck at IBM Pulse 2014. Briscione is a chef instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education.
    9 - Chefs at IBM Pulse
  • Portuguese Lobster Roll

    IBM served up a Portuguese lobster roll from the Watson food truck at IBM Pulse 2014.
    10 - Portuguese Lobster Roll
  • Baltic Apple Pie

    This Baltic Apple Pie was served from the IBM Watson Food Truck at IBM Pulse 2014.
    11 - Baltic Apple Pie
  • Is IBM Crowdsourcing Food?

    Crowds gather to try the dishes from the IBM Watson Food truck at SXSW. Visitors get to vote on different dishes. The recipes were created through collaboration between IBM Watson and chefs at New York's Institute of Culinary Education.
    12 - Is IBM Crowdsourcing Food?
  • Try Something New!

    Some visitors to the IBM Watson food truck at SXSW appear a little wary of trying something new and different like the Vietnamese apple kebab.
    13 - Try Something New!
  • Vietnamese Apple Kebab

    At SXSW in Austin, Texas, the IBM Watson food truck is serving up exotic dishes—like this Vietnamese apple kebab—that explore computing's culinary creativity.
    14 - Vietnamese Apple Kebab
  • Belgian Bacon Pudding

    The IBM Watson food truck is also serving up exotic dishes like this Belgian bacon pudding at SXSW.
    15 - Belgian Bacon Pudding
  • Caribbean Snapper Fish and Chips

    Another exotic dish that the IBM Watson food truck is serving up at SXSW is Caribbean snapper fish and chips.
    16 - Caribbean Snapper Fish and Chips
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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