IBM Awards Three Watson Mobile Challenge Winners

IBM awarded three entrepreneurs for winning the Watson Mobile Developer Challenge at its IBM Innovate conference in Orlando, Fla.

IBM Watson mobile challenge

ORLANDO, Fla.–IBM announced the three winners of the 2014 Watson Mobile Developer Challenge, a global competition where developers and entrepreneurs created consumer and business apps using IBM's Watson cognitive computing capabilities.

Teams spanning 18 industries from 43 countries submitted more than 400 business concepts that demonstrated how cognitive computing can tackle societal and business challenges. The submissions addressed a wide range of issues, including micro-finance in developing economies, to remote diagnosis and treatment using evidence-based health protocols. The winners each will receive support from IBM to advance their concepts into market. IBM announced the winners at the IBM Innovate 2014 conference here.

The winning Watson mobile app concepts represent collaborative efforts among software engineers, data scientists, entrepreneurs and mobile developers who share a vision with IBM for addressing important business challenges by applying cognitive innovations to strengthen decision making, augment knowledge and unleash creative thinking.

The Watson Mobile Challenge winners are GenieMD, Majestyk Apps and Red Ant. GenieMD, based in Pleasanton, Calif., empowers individuals to take a more active role in managing their health by delivering a holistic view, making health data actionable and shareable. GenieMD can provide relevant and personalized medical recommendations, enabling family caregivers to have access to relevant patient data and enabling them to be more effective and efficient, as well as facilitating better communication between the individuals and their health-care providers.

“I think the combination of the two things – mobility and cognitive computing – make for a perfect pair – they go well together,” said Dr. Soheil Saadat, founder and CEO of GenieMD. “We saw two things about this opportunity. The first is with the cost of health care going up, we saw that there will be no technology out there that can impact health care like Watson. The second thing is that with Watson, in villages around the world where people don’t go to doctors, Watson can be the doctor or at least the doctor’s assistant.”

New York City-based Majestyk Apps developed F.A.N.G., an acronym for Friendly Anthropomorphic Networked Genome, which provides an adaptive educational relationship with a child and their parents. The first iteration is a cognitive, cuddly plush companion, using Watson to provide a customized educational experience assisting each child to develop through a series of contextual interactions.

“We’re creating a truly smart and truly interactive toy,” said Donald Coolidge, CEO of Majestyk Apps, in an IBM Smarter Planet blog post.

London-based Red Ant is a retail sales trainer that lets employees easily identify individual customers’ buying preferences by analyzing demographics, purchase history and wish lists, as well as product information, local pricing, customer reviews and tech specs. The app provides customized selling points unique to that customer onscreen or via text-to-speech on an earpiece.

“We’re looking for the power of Watson to improve all areas of retail,” said Alex Sbardella, head of product at Red Ant. “With Watson, everything is evidence-based and it’s provable.”

IBM launched the Watson Mobile Developer Challenge in February, allowing developers to tap into Watson's unique cognitive computing power. Hundreds of concepts were submitted and narrowed down to 25 finalists, who were then given access to the Watson Developer Cloud to build, train and test their apps.

Submissions were evaluated on several criteria, including a compelling use case for Watson, societal and business impact, degree of unique mobile characteristics of the solution, as well as the identification of a specific target market, and a clear vision for how the app addressed the identified issue.

Five finalists were invited to present their business concepts and prototype apps to a panel of IBM senior executives at the IBM Innovate 2014 conference here in Orlando, where the three winners were announced. The winners will join the Watson Ecosystem Program and will work with IBM's recently launched global consulting practice, IBM Interactive Experience, that will provide design consulting and business support from IBM experts to further develop and deploy their app commercially.

“These bright and enterprising developers have discovered novel ways to apply Watson that can have valuable business benefits,” said Mike Rhodin, senior vice president of the IBM Watson Group, in the Smarter Planet blog. “Their ideas, along with many others we received, confirm our belief that putting Watson into the hands of entrepreneurs will make cognitive systems the computing standard of the future.”

In November 2013, IBM announced Watson as an application development platform in the cloud. Today, more than 2,500 individuals and organizations – ranging from startups and VC-backed companies to established players – have shared ideas with IBM for building cognitive apps that will redefine how businesses and consumers make decisions. Some of the early adopters advancing apps made with Watson include Fluid, Welltok, Modernizing Medicine, Reflexis Systems and Modulus.

The IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge is part of the IBM MobileFirst strategy to help businesses of all sizes adopt mobile technology to better engage with customers and extend their businesses to new markets.