Challenge To Create Conversational Apps
Written by Sue Gee   
Sunday, 27 March 2016

Devpost and IBM are running an online hackathon restricted to the United States to build apps with a conversational interface using Watson’s new language APIs. Over 350 people are already engaged on this contest, but there's time to join in before the April 15 deadline.

Devpost, formerly ChallengePost, has an established track record for online hackathons and an active community of developers. It encourages teamwork and now has a new Teams feature, currently in Alpha, where you can find out more about job openings at small organizations who are hiring members for their dev teams.

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The Watson Developer Challenge is open to individuals aged over 18 and small organizations with up to 50 employees in the first United States (including the District of Columbia) in teams of up to 5 members.

The remit is to create a conversational application that uses two or more of the following Watson Developer Cloud APIs: Dialog, Retrieve and Rank, Natural Language Classifier and Document Conversion. According to Devpost:

It could be a chat bot, it could be an automated phone system, it could be something no one has ever seen! Take an existing process and make it more human (but without the human). An advisor to walk you through filling out your taxes, maybe. Or an assistant to help you with a tricky repair hands-free.

 

The challenge home page provides this video snippet which went viral in February - perhaps because it features Carrie Fisher rather than for its coast of robots, including Watson. If you've not seen it already spare it a minute: 

 

More helpful for potential participants in the challenge are a series of Building with Watson Webinars, specifially relating to Conversational Apps, that are on the Resources page.

To get started you need to create a Bluemix account to access Watson Developer Cloud services. Your app needs to be hosted on a hosting service such as Bluemix and the app code has to be publicly available on a site such as GitHub.

Judging criteria for the contest are: 

  • Best Use of Watson Services
  • Relevance to the Challenge 
    The extent to which the application solves a real-world problem using a conversational interface.
  • Quality of the Code
    How easy it is to read and reuse
  • Overall Appeal 

Although the contest details states $6,750 in prizes there's no cash to be won. Prizes will be awarded to the three teams with the highest combined score on those ctiteria. The overall winners will win Apple Watches and  the opportunity to attend the at World of Watson 2016. Prizes for the team in second place are Apple iPad Air 2s and those for third place are GoPro Hero+ LCD action cameras. Winners will also enjoy promotional placement for their apps through IBM’s channels.

On the whole this is contest that is more about participation and learning about the latest technology than the prizes it offer. 

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 27 March 2016 )