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IBM is ratcheting up the attention it is putting on its Watson cognitive computing platform to put a mobile like to its capabilities.

It announced this week the Watson Mobile Developer Challenge to encourage developers to create mobile apps powered by the platform.

Developers from around the world have until March 31 to submit ideas. Twenty-five finalists will be chosen and will get access to tools and access to the Watson sandbox to build prototype software. The top five will pitch their concept to a panel of IBM judges. Winners, who get to work with IBM to polish the apps, will be announced May 31.

Judging by the FAQs, IBM anticipates that applicants will be developers who are have the finances to create a working prototype. It may help to add to applications mock-ups, wireframes or animations of the proposed mobile experience.

Watson analyzes unstructured text (including HTML and PDF) information and delivers hypotheses or existing ideas from text. So far, it only works in English.

At IBM’s Pulse conference this week the company said Watson will be available on its SoftLayer cloud platform for developers to build apps on. The Mobile Challenge is a way to get them to understand that it’s not only desktop business apps they should be thinking of.

Watson can plow through millions of pages of data to discover answers and insights to complex questions, says IBM. The company suggests it can be used to listen to support centre calls and suggest follow up questions or help operators find answers faster, and analyze news, transactions and social media flows to help investment advisers make recommendations to clients.

“The power of Watson in the palm of your hand is a game-changing proposition, so we’re calling on mobile developers around the world to start building cognitive computing apps infused with Watson’s intelligence,” Mike Rhodin, senior vice-president of IBM’s Watson Group, said in a statement.” Imagine a new class of apps that deliver deep insights to consumers and business users instantly — wherever they are — over the cloud. It’s about changing the essence of decision making from ‘information at your fingertips’ to actual insights.”

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