IBM Watson’s New Job as Art Museum Guide

For the launch of IBM Watson in Brazil, Ogilvy Brazil created an interactive guide that lets people have conversations with work housed at the Pinacoteca de São Paulo Museum. “The Voice of Art” replaces pre-recorded audio guides with a Watson-powered program that gleans data from books, old newspapers, recent articles, biographies, interviews and the internet.

It took IBM six months to teach Watson how to make sense of all that content. Hosted on cloud platform IBM Bluemix, its AI capabilities were put to work answering spontaneous questions about art by renowned Brazilian creators like Cândido Portinari, Tarsila do Amaral and José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior.

Conversational scope can range from historical and technical facts (like “What technique was used to create this painting?”) to the piece’s relation to contemporary events.

The video below does a nice job of showing how Watson fields natural questions whose answers feel especially relevant to the person asking, creating a unique connection between viewer and piece. In one cool moment, a boy approaches Portinari’s O Mestiço, a 1934 painting of a shirtless mixed-race man against the backdrop of a coffee farm.

When Oglivy found out 72 percent of Brazilians had never been to a museum, they saw an opportunity to make use of Watson’s cognitive intelligence to make their visit very interactive. At the museum’s entrance, visitors receive headphones and a smartphone equipped with the mobile app. As they walk, the app tells them when they’re approaching an art piece they can ask questions about. A separate feature, for hearing-impaired visitors, lets them interact through a built-in written chat tool.

Source: AdWeek

Why it’s hot:

  • This could have a lot of implications for our brands in the future – IBM Watson acting as a tour guide or concierge in different environments could help bridge knowledge gaps for things that need extra explaining, or for consumers that prefer more hands-on experiences.