Technology

Watson's AI-created recipe app goes live

Recipe from Chef Watson app Image copyright IBM
Image caption Strawberry curry anyone? IBM says the app can combine "quintillions of possible ingredients"

An app which allows users to download recipes suggested by IBM's supercomputer Watson is going live for the public to test.

The Chef Watson app offers unique recipes by combining ingredients with data about the way humans perceive food.

The app is being launched with food magazine Bon Appetit.

The food served up by the cognitive computing platform has had mixed reviews.

Last year, Chef Watson was shown off at conferences and other events such as the South by Southwest Festival in Texas.

Image copyright IBM Research
Image caption Last year, IBM took Chef Watson out on the road at the South by Southwest festival

It drew on vast databases - one containing existing recipes, another providing data on flavour compounds in thousands of ingredients and a third with psychological data about how humans perceive different flavours.

At the time, IBM said the system demonstrated how computers could be creative, but added that it was also an example of how, in future, humans and machines would work together.

Last year, the firm partnered with Bon Appetit to build a more consumer-friendly app using 9,000 recipes supplied by the magazine. It released a trial version of the app to some readers.

"We've been impressed by the creative ideas users have discovered so far - to see not only what dishes they were making, but what common food problems they were solving with the help of Watson," said Stacey C Rivera, digital director of Bon Appetit.

Image copyright IBM Research
Image caption Baltic Apple Pie might shock eaters when they hit the pork layer

"From cutting out gluten to limiting the amount of waste in their kitchen, the Chef Watson app proves that if you give cooks a tool to help them be creative in the kitchen, they will be."

Dr Steve Abrams, director of IBM Watson, said: "The application of Watson in the culinary arts illustrates how smart machines can help people make discoveries.

"These technologies are being adopted not only by cooking lovers, but professionals in other industries ranging from life sciences to fashion to explore new ideas."

Some of the initial dishes cooked up by Chef Watson were pretty outlandish - such as Baltic Apple pie which included a layer of pork.

And there are some pretty bizarre flavour combinations on the app - including Strawberry Curry.

Technology news site Engadget has been working its way though the Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson cookbook, which was released a few months ago.

While some of the recipes were "pretty tasty", it said: "The chicken-flavoured Old Fashioned... we'd suggest nobody try making... ever."

TED talks

Image copyright IBM
Image caption A Watson-inspired pizza

Watson is increasingly being used to help solve a range of real-life challenges.

In May, it was announced that Watson would be used to make decisions about cancer care in 14 hospitals in the US and Canada.

During July's Wimbledon tennis championships - where IBM is the main technology partner - the 3.2 million data points captured will be fed into Watson and new tennis facts will be served up via a human-readable alert, which Wimbledon staff will put out on Facebook and Twitter.

And recently, the talks from all previous TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conferences have been inputted into the machine - allowing users to ask a series of questions based on the topics covered.

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