Three Startups Just Won An IBM Contest For Their Super Smart Apps


Virginia Ginni Rometty

Flickr/Fortune Live Media

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

If you think a talking smartphone app like Siri see-saws between useful and disappointing, IBM has news for you: Watson could be the cloud service you are looking for.


IBM is investing $1 billion into its super smart talking computer, Watson, in the hopes of encouraging developers to write apps for it.

On Tuesday, the company announced three winners of a contest to build Watson apps.

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  • GenieMD - Ask a medical question such as, "Can I take aspirin for my headache given my medical condition and prescriptions?" Hear an answer. Somewhat like a verbal WebMD.
  • Majestyk Apps - A smart, interactive, educational toy for kids.
  • Red Ant - A retail app that lets salespeople answer questions about any product in the store, from specs to customer reviews. Also lets salespeople recognize customers when they enter the store by identifying the app on their smartphone.

IBM says 400 companies in 43 countries submitted ideas for the contest. It gave 25 of them access to Watson to build a prototype and chose the winners from there. They won backing from IBM to turn their prototypes into actual consumer apps. Right now, IBM doesn't freely give access to Watson to any developer for messing around with. Developers have to apply to use it.

CEO Ginni Rometty has big plans for the smart computer. She reportedly wants to turn Watson into a $10 billion business, the Wall Street Journal reported.


This contest is one step to build awareness. IBM is also acquiring technology that could allow Watson to grow a personality, similar to the operating systems in the movie "Her."

IBM envisions Watson having "realistic conversations - everything from friendly chitchat to intense debate," Mike Rhodin, senior vice president of IBM's Watson Group, explained in a blog post last month.

Wrap it all up, and you have the potential of a talking computer that can do everything from keeping you healthy to keeping you company.