18 March 2016

BUSINESS - Watson-powered Mobile Shopping App Launching in April

The first mobile app to put Watson, the powerful artificial intelligence computer owned by IBM, to use in the retail environment will be launched by outdoor clothing and supply company The North Face.

Users can speak to the Watson-powered shopping assistant who will ask questions to determine what product meets the shopper’s needs.

Watson asks questions like where you will be using the product, what time of year (determines temperature/climate), what activities you will engage in and if you are male or female. The answers you supply will help the app narrow down items to the most appropriate for your personal needs.

Since North Face began testing in November, 50,000 have used the app. “Users who provided feedback rated the experience a 2.5 out of 3, and 75 percent said they’d use it again,” Cal Bouchard, senior director of e-commerce at The North Face, told VentureBeat. The technology generated a 60 percent click-through rate to try product recommendations.

The app still has some bugs, but artificial intelligence learns over time so it will only become more accurate.

While there are many online shopping sites, such as Amazon, this app will be the first to have a unique personal touch through innovative technology. No one else is using Watson with natural language question and answer.

“We think this is game-changing,” said Bouchard.

How can this technology expand into the pet industry? Imagine it helping consumers choose the right pet food, appropriate toys for individual dogs, or training tools.

Read more: The North Face to launch insanely smart Watson-powered mobile shopping app next month

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