1 – Rebranding Artificial Intelligence: IBM Watson partners with Ogilvy & Mather

If you watched the Academy Awards, you probably saw the new Watson commercial, featuring Carrie Fisher as therapist to a group of robots that are frustrated by Watson’s rounded capabilities in comparison to their more limited personas and abilities. The commercial is part of an effort to rebrand artificial intelligence and make it more approachable and less “Hollywood-esque”. IBM partnered with agency partner Ogilvy & Mather to brainstorm the campaign, playing off people’s love of science fiction and using humor to illustrate a bigger point – that IBM’s Watson has cognitive computing capabilities that are real and able to collaborate with human beings in an increasing number of fields. The hope is that as IBM continues to partner with thousands of business partners, that people will start to understand the value that Watson is bringing to areas from health care to banking to education.

(Read the full article on New York Business Journal)

 

2 – Affective Teams Up with Developers to Make Video Games that Know Your Feelings

Boston-based startup Affectiva, which creates software that can track and decipher human feelings, is trying out its technology in the gaming industry. Partnering with California-based studio Flying Mollusk, Affective’s software is being integrated with the game “Nevermind”, starting next week. Nevermind is a psychological thriller, which makes it a prime candidate for measuring player’s reactions. The game already allows players to use heart-rate monitors to track pulse during play; as pulse increases, the level of play increases in difficulty. In the new version, a standard webcam will watch player’s faces and respond to perceived emotions to perform the same function. Players will need to stay calm in order to play through obstacles. Flying Mollusk Founder Erin Reynolds described it as a “stress management tool disguised as a game.”

(Read the full article on BetaBoston)

 

3 – At 100, BMW Sees Radical New Future in World of Driverless Cars

The nearly-100-years-old BMW announced its entry into the self-driving auto industry this week at the Geneva Auto Show. In a Reuter’s interview, R&D Chief Klaus Froelich said,

“Our task is to preserve our business model without surrendering it to an internet player. Otherwise we will end up as the Foxconn for a company like Apple, delivering only the metal bodies for them.”

Froelich recognizes that BMW has catching up to do in the areas of machine learning with competitors like Google, Apple, and even Uber. Today, the company’s software engineers equal 20 percent of the company’s workforce, but Froelich sees the need to raise that ratio to 50 percent within five years. One of the challenges that the company faces is finding enough tech engineers and experts in cloud computing that can be hired in-house, keeping the bulk of operations in Germany rather than outsourcing to tech hubs like Silicon Valley and elsewhere. The company’s interest in this area is not brand new, as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen’s Audi teamed together in 2015 to purchase Nokia, creating a neural platform for smart cars to share data on road and traffic conditions.

(Read the full article on Reuters)

 

4 – The North Face to Launch Insanely Smart Watson-Powered Mobile Shopping App Next Month

Watson is being introduced into the retail space for the first time in the form of an app. In April 2016, The North Face will introduce the Watson-powered shopping assistant to help customers figure out the best items based on their defined wants and needs. Since starting testing in November on desktops, the company has garnered positive user feedback. Out of 50,000 participants, average time spent with app was two minutes, and users who provided feedback rated its use a 2.5 out of 3. The app is not without its bugs, but Senior Director for eCommerce Cal Bouchard said this is to be expected, calling Watson’s current level of intelligence in this space at a “second- or third-grade level”. Over time, Watson will learn from interactions with customers and build a better understanding of the complexities in word choice and other multifaceted variables.

(Read the full article on VentureBeat)

 

5 – Mariana Is the First to Use Artificial Intelligence to Disrupt Marketing Automation, Enables 10X Boost in Conversion

The Silicon Valley-based B2B demand generation platform, Mariana, officially launched on Tuesday this week with $2 million in initial funding. Main seed round funder Managing Director Bruce Taragin of Blumberg Capital was followed by angel investors who included Gokul Rajaram and Gerri Elliott. Using deep learning technology, Mariana helps solve the time-consuming process of finding interested buyers amidst the masses by first finding the buyer, and then choosing the best-fit personalized marketing based on “automatic buyer persona creation.” Like a human marketer’s mind, algorithms process unstructured data, but do so quickly at vast scales, to form buyer profiles that account for demographics and buyer needs. The company has two product offerings – ProspectIQ, which analyzes existing customer databases, and ConversionIQ, which cleans lead lists.

(Read the full article on Silicon Valley Business Journal)

Image Credit: IBM Watson

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