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IBM's Watson Supercomputer Receives New Features

IBM's Watson supercomputer is best known for its human-like capabilities: the ability to recognize the spoken language, dynamic learning and the ability to develop accurate hypotheses when asked a logical question. The supercomputer proved so effective in fact, that it even competed on the popular game show Jeopardy - where it competed, and won, against human competitors.

That was years ago, however, but Watson hasn't been placed on a shelf in some IBM basement. Instead, the development team has been hard at work improving the functionality and capabilities of Watson even further. To this extent, they've recently unveiled the details behind their latest update, which offers a total of five new features. Added to the preexisting features seen in Watson, and the supercomputer now has 13 unique services.

Speech-to-text, the first new feature of the latest update, utilizes a low-latency speech recognition protocol to convert English speech into a readable text format. The second new feature, text-to-speech, is capable of mimicking either the English or Spanish language by producing natural-sounding speech derived from written text of either language. Apart from increasing accessibility across the board, both of these new features serve as the fundamentals for Watson's speech-to-speech functionality.

Visual recognition, the third new feature added to the Watson supercomputer, gives the system the ability to analyze and process specific content within images and video. This allows the computer to categorize images or video files according to their specific subject or content or even connect imagery to related items. Relying on Watson's previous abilities of deep learning, the new visual recognition process utilizes a preset classifier and trained labels that designate content such as specific objects, events and environments.

The fourth update to Watson revolves around conceptual analysis. Thanks to the recent upgrade, Watson can now analyze and scrutinize human input as a means of highlighting associate thoughts and concepts in a manner that is more advanced than the simple text matching algorithms of the past. This bolsters database search queries, streamlines resource management capability and improves customer relations.

Finally, Watson has also received the ability to engage users in tradeoff analytics, thereby analyzing multiple goals while highlighting and disseminating conflicting information or outcomes through a simple, easy-to-read graphical interface. In this sense, Watson computer can now help users make better, more informed decisions regarding day-to-day problems, concerns and tasks.

IBM Watson's five new services, which were unveiled in early February 2015, are currently in their beta testing stage. They can be accessed and used for free through IBM's own cloud application development platform, Bluemix.

There is a lot more in store for IBM's Watson supercomputer, that's for sure. Apart from supporting big data analytics, Watson also has many practical uses in the medical sector. Moreover, Watson's own cookbook, titled "Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson," is slated for a 2015 release. Based on Watson's preexisting big data analytics and deep learning capabilities, the book, which is the first of its kind, represents a partnership between IBM and the Institute of Culinary Education, also known as ICE.

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