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IBM’s Watson Group invests in Fluid with eye toward personal shopping apps


Armonk, N.Y. -- IBM said Tuesday that its Watson unit has invested in Fluid, a digital commerce firm, to develop personalized shopping applications using IBM’s cognitive computing tools.

IBM and Fluid are collaborating on the Fluid Expert Shopper (XPS) made with IBM Watson, an app that lets consumers ask it highly specific questions, as they would a sales associate in a store, and receive personalized advice. In partnership with The North Face and other brands, Fluid XPS will take advantage of Watson’s ability to answer consumer questions and learn from their responses, engage in real-time conversations and then tailor suggestions for products.

Watson will understand the context of its users’ questions, and continuously learn about their needs based on the information they share. When complete, Fluid XPS will draw on data, including the brand’s product information, user reviews and online expert publications through IBM Watson, to provide consumers with informed recommendations according to their needs and desires. Consumers will be able to interact with Watson on desktops, tablets and smartphones for the first time.

Drawing from $100 million that IBM has earmarked for direct investments to fuel a new class of cognitive apps, the IBM Watson Group is making an investment in Fluid to help deliver this app. As a Watson Ecosystem partner, Fluid is creating its cognitive technology in the Watson Developer Cloud, which provides a toolkit and sandbox for building cognitive apps, as well as access to Watson's Application Programming Interface (API).

“By tapping into IBM Watson’s cognitive intelligence, Fluid is infusing the personalized, interactive feel of an in-store conversation into every digital shopping interaction,” said Mike Rhodin, senior VP, IBM Watson Group. “This is what positive market disruption looks like, and it’s a key example of how a new era of cognitive applications will revolutionize how decisions are made by consumers and businesses alike.”

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