I would like to take you on an exciting and rewarding personal journey that brings together IBM Watson, the Java community and the Devoxx organization. The journey truly began during my discussions with Reggie Hutcherson at JavaOne in 2015 and with introductions to several Java champions at the conference! After JavaOne we discussed leveraging IBM Watson to make a cognitive search engine for Devoxx videos and Voxxed articles. Really valuable articles and videos covering cutting edge technologies and penned by pre-eminient technologists worldwide for the Devoxx community. The coding began with Stephan Janssen in April 2016 to develop a search engine that used Watson’s Java SDK to invoke Concept Insights, Speech to Text, Alchemy APIs and Visual Recognition APIs. Our new cognitive search engine on various technical topics, returned results that went deeper and broader with concept graphs built using deep neural networks.

Stephan and I presented this cognitive search prototype at Devoxx UK in June 2016 and open-sourced the application to the community. There was tremendous interest in Watson along with some skepticism around Watson being a truly cognitive platform. Skepticism which would be answered at the next Devoxx in Belgium!

Stephan Janssen and Sandhya Kapoor on the Devoxx BE stage in Antwerp

Stephan Janssen and Sandhya Kapoor on the Devoxx BE stage in Antwerp

My schedule was chock-filled with developer action when I landed in Antwerp, Belgium. At Devoxx BE we demonstrated our cognitive search engine. With the addition of Watson’s Conversation API and natural language queries, we used the popular Pepper Robot as the front end. He charmed the audience with his answers to questions, derived from IBM Watson’s Conversation service. The Amazon Alexa was a runner up. Watch the fun Devoxx BE keynote here. Given that Devoxx BE was a vendor agnostic event, I was proud still to see Watson come out on top!

Social media wall with Watson sentiment analysis at Devoxx BE

Social media wall with Watson sentiment analysis at Devoxx BE

During the conference, Watson again did an excellent job at analyzing sentiments for the thousands of tweets in English and other languages flying around on sessions, speakers, BOFs, Tools in Actions and Ignite Talks at the week long Devoxx conference. See the smileys’ and the frownies above!

In response to skepticism for the Watson cognitive search engine at Devoxx UK, we also had a three hour university session that would take a “Deep Dive into Watson’s Neural Networks” at Devoxx BE. Dr. Bowen Zhou (Chief Scientist, Watson Group) and Dr. Arthur Kantor (Research Scientist in Speech to Text) joined me on the stage in diving into Watson as a platform that learns and evolves. You can see that deep dive and all the details in the video below.

And finally, during Dexoxx BE, I also presented another session on the Watson Devoxx use-case with my friends, Stephan Janssen, Daniel De Luca and Jim Weaver, where I showcased Watson APIs that are using natural language processing (NLP) and natural language classification (NLC) to make it easy for developers to write cognitive applications in any domain!!! Please do watch the content here.

As you can tell, it’s been a whirlwind trip and amazing experience for me working with Devoxx and the brilliant people in the community. But the best part of this trip is that it hasn’t ended yet. During my travels and thanks to the hard work of Reggie Hutcherson at IBM, we were able to announce Devoxx US coming to San Jose in March 2017. AND that my company, IBM, would be the exclusive platinum sponsor! Devoxx US is one of the first developer-focused conferences that IBM will sponsor. I will be supporting the event as part of the Devoxx program committee. So my Devoxx journey continues and I’m so excited to see what happens next and you can be sure, I’ll be sharing all that great news with you…

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