IBM’s Watson may be putting its cognitive muscle to work battling cancer and cybercriminals, but it’s no slouch at shopping, either. On Wednesday, retail brand Macy’s announced that it’s testing out a new mobile service that lets in-store shoppers ask Watson for help.
Dubbed Macy’s On-Call, the tool gives smartphone-equipped shoppers a way to ask Watson questions about a store’s products, services and facilities by typing their questions into a mobile browser. It’s delivered through location-based engagement software from IBM partner Satisfi, which accesses Watson from the cloud, and it works in both English and Spanish.
Natural-language processing allows shoppers to ask questions in their own words. There’s no voice input available. Answers are customized to each individual store, either by tapping into the smartphone’s GPS, if it’s turned on, or by asking the user to input a ZIP code. Either way, when a shopper types, “Where are ladies’ shoes?” or “INC dresses,” for example, Watson will deliver the location and directions specific to that store.