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By Sima Nadler

SP Stocking Shelf

Field testing the IBM mobile digital shopping assistant app.

Whether it’s finding those gluten-free crackers, getting the best price for sunblock, or just navigating inside the store, new technology is changing the way we shop. We can already compare prices and products using our smartphones, and soon we’ll have a cognitive, digital shopping assistant ready to answer all our questions.

This week IBM announced an augmented reality technology with Tesco, one of the world’s leading retailers, that will enable the company to do things like manage more effectively how products are displayed on shelves – ensure they are arranged according to plans that specify the best position, amount, and arrangement. This same core technology can also be used to help shoppers compare products or find what they’re looking for. Continue Reading »

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Florian Pinel

Florian Pinel, Senior Software Engineer, IBM Watson & Cognitive Cooking

By Florian Pinel

Raise your hand if you have interests outside of your day job. Probably most everyone, I imagine. Now, how often do they serendipitously collide? Probably not that often, right? But that’s what happened for me two years ago when I applied my computer science skills to my love of the culinary arts as part of IBM’s Cognitive Cooking project.

If you’re attending South by Southwest in Austin from March 7-11, come meet me at the IBM Food Truck. I’ll be showing how this recipe-generating technology works, while chefs will be preparing the dishes you can vote for on Twitter.

Austrian Chocolate Burrito

Austrian Chocolate Burrito

The idea started when my team was brainstorming on “Watson-like projects” – nothing so specific as “cooking,” yet. We wanted to know: could the cognitive computing that Watson uses in healthcare and other industries, also be creative?

That angle then spun into “could a machine come up with a recipe we could make into a dish that we would actually want to eat?” You can read about its early iterations, and its potential societal impacts, in the 2012 IBM 5 in 5: Taste prediction. Continue Reading »

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Chef Michael Laiskonis

Creative Director and Chef Michael Laiskonis. Photo credit: Institute of Culinary Education

Chef Michael Laiskonis has worked in some of the world’s best restaurants, including New York’s Le Bernardin, a Michelin Guide three-star restaurant, as executive pastry chef. Now the creative director at the Institute of Culinary Education, Laiskonis is helping IBM “teach” a computer system to develop novel recipes. The “cognitive cooking” collaboration was on display at IBM’s Pulse Conference, where ICE chefs prepared everything from an Austrian chocolate burrito, to a Baltic apple pie in the IBM Food Truck. Next, the truck and tech will stop in Austin for the South by Southwest Interactive Conference. Before Chef Laiskonis set out for the Lone Star state’s capital, he spoke with the Smarter Planet blog about what it’s like to work with a computer that knows ingredients down to the molecular level, and how such a system would be accepted in the kitchen.

Smarter Planet: How did you become interested in cooking, and inspired to be a chef?

Michael Laiskonis: I fell into cooking quite by accident while I was pursuing a degree in fine arts. What began as something I “could” do simply in order to pay the bills quickly became something I felt “compelled” to do. The underlying science of cooking, the process of transformation, the hard work of making something with one’s own hands and the instant gratification of making people happy – all of those things still drive me today. Continue Reading »

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SP africaphoto_winner

‘Digital Migration” – Winner of IBM’s The World is Our Lab – Africa photo competition.
(Photo: Lawrence Mwangi, Nairobi)

What happens when you ask an entire continent to illustrate its challenges and opportunities in photos?

That’s exactly what IBM’s newest research lab wanted to find out. IBM Research – Africa, which opened its doors last November, was created with an ambitious mission: to conduct applied and far-reaching exploratory research into the grand challenges of the African continent by delivering commercially-viable innovations that impact people’s lives. Though it opened with clear objectives and an understanding of many of the infrastructural concerns across the continent, the Lab wanted a more personal understanding of the challenges.

“We quickly realized that if we were to make a difference in Africa, we needed to operate outside of the walls of the lab,” said Dr. Kamal Bhattacharya, Director, IBM Research – Africa. “While we benefit from 25 PHDs from some of the world’s best universities, it is crucial that we enter a dialogue with the people who best understand their own realities.” Continue Reading »

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Lawrence "Shabu" Mwangi, artist,  photographer

Lawrence “Shabu” Mwangi, artist, photographer

By Lawrence “Shabu” Mwangi
Winner of IBM’s The World is Our Lab – Africa Photo Competition

I was born and have lived in the Mukuru slums in Nairobi, Kenya, for most of my life. I have witnessed first-hand the challenges to mental, emotional well – being and all kinds of challenges – some of which I can’t categorize.

I was strong enough to go through all that, but I had my weaknesses which overcame me at points. Still, I remained focused with whom I wanted to be. Though I was very good in school, I didn’t take further steps with education due to my home situation and the insecure environment.

But I remained strong in my education path and still believe in education and I have been educating myself till now.

Despite all this I was able to hold on to whom I wanted to see in me – and this was an artist. Art was a tool which I knew since I was young and believed I could use as a medium to say something. In 2009 I got interested in photography and was involved in a photography workshop. Continue Reading »

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Adalio Sanchez, General Manager, IBM x86 and PureSystems Solutions, IBM

Adalio Sanchez, General Manager, IBM x86 and PureSystems Solutions, IBM

By Adalio Sanchez

Forward-thinking academic institutions rely on advanced technology systems to support internal research programs and to improve their own IT operations. Just as importantly, the practical application of these technologies in the academic world plays a critical role in promoting the development and education of students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Throughout my career as a technologist, I’ve witnessed firsthand how the right technology solutions have the power to foster and advance STEM education and make our education systems smarter – from turning ideas into useful knowledge and practical business technologies that can benefit our economy and society, to filling the employment pipeline with workers equipped with the skills necessary to make them competitive and successful. Continue Reading »

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Steve Hamm, IBM Writer

Steve Hamm, IBM Writer

By Steve Hamm

Amid the chaos of civil war, Abdigani Diriye’s family fled Somalia in a rush when he was just five years old. Diriye and his sister escaped to London in the care of a 19-year-old aunt; his father flew to Sweden; and his mother made her way through the battle zone to Kenya.

Diriye’s childhood experience was common for Somalis of his generation. Many people had it much worse. But Diriye stands out in another way:  After living in the UK and the US for 25 years, he’s returning to Africa next month to help solve its many problems—as a new member of the team at IBM Research – Africa. “It could have easily been me still in Somalia living on $2 a day with no access to clean water,” he says. “It’s my social responsibility to go back and give back.”

Continue Reading »

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Sandy Carter, GM, IBM Ecosystem Development

Sandy Carter, GM, IBM Ecosystem Development

By Sandy Carter

Once upon a time, Silicon Valley was the only place in the world where entrepreneurship seemed to happen through spontaneous combustion. So cities and countries all over tried to copy it–with only modest success.

Well, something strange is happening in the early years of the 21st century. Startup fever is on the move, both within the United States and globally.

The spirit of global entrepreneurship will be on display Feb. 6 in San Francisco, where the IBM SmartCamp program will present its fourth annual Entrepreneur of the Year award. The contestants, boiled down from 1200 applicants, qualified for the finals via a series of regional contests last year. They hail from Brazil,  Turkey, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, Australia and Malaysia—as well as a couple of unlikely spots in the United States, Camden, N.J., and Fresno, Calif.

To watch a live stream video of the day’s activities, visit here starting at 9 a.m. US Pacific Time.  To participate in a peoples’ choice vote, click here.

Continue Reading »

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Jon Mogford, Vice Chancellor for Research, Texas A&M University System

Jon Mogford, Vice Chancellor of Research, Texas A&M University System

The Texas A&M University System and IBM have created one of the world’s largest computational sciences infrastructure. Built on a mix of high performance computing technologies that include Blue Gene/Q, Power 7 and System x servers, scientists and engineers across the system’s 11 universities and seven state agencies will work on projects dedicated to advancing agriculture, geosciences and engineering. Early tests pitted the Blue Gene/Q, installed at TAMUS’s flagship campus in College Station, on a material sciences problem that previously took weeks. The Blue Gene/Q’s 418 Teraflops solved it in less than an hour.

Jon Mogford, the Vice Chancellor of Research for TAMUS, will play a key role in the coordination and success of these diverse projects, teams and technologies. He met with IBM Smarter Planet to discuss how the university system is putting this massive new infrastructure to work. Continue Reading »

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January 16th, 2014

Lisa Seacat DeLuca, IBM Master Inventor

Lisa Seacat DeLuca, IBM Master Inventor

By Lisa Seacat DeLuca

Patents can help make our lives much richer.

Suppose you’re on the phone with your best friend from high school. The conversation might go from an upcoming wedding, to your favorite sports team, and back to some “remember when” moments. Each time the conversation changes, both people might be presented with different images or social messages relevant to those keywords, further engaging both users and enhancing the phone conversation.

One of my patents, U.S. Patent #8,494,851, issued last July, describes that scenario as “retrieval of contextually relevant social networking information during a phone conversation.”

I’m always wearing my inventor hat. Whenever I purchase a new technology, I look for ways to improve it. The USPTO has issued 115 patents to me, and I have more than 250 more pending, making me the first woman in IBM’s history to reach the 100th Plateau Achievement Award, which is a point system that rewards patent filings and publishes. Continue Reading »

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