Pebble Beach boasts pure beauty everywhere you look: the California coast, the trails, the wildlife, the historic golf courses curving right up to the ocean which holds Monterey Peninsula. It takes a striking digital experience to warrant pulling one’s eyes down, even for a moment — an experience powered by Watson and some pretty great code.

17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach’s scenic main route, offers vistas upon vistas. It also winds through a great many places worth parking the car and exploring, from beaches to trails, restaurants and lounges to spas and tennis courts.

About 1.5 million visitors arrive every year, not just to golf and often not to stay the night, but to spend some time exploring.

After decades of paper maps pointing out for all these visitors the hidden treasures and rich history of the area, IBM and Pebble Beach Resorts partnered to produce an app which can provide that service and then some.

All you have to do is ask.

With Watson as digital concierge, IBM and Pebble Beach designed the Pebble Beach app which directs visitors along 17-Mile Drive, ensuring they don’t miss a thing and that their questions are answered.

“I’d like to find a place to eat dinner.”
“Where’s the best place to find a good beer?”
“I’m looking for a gift for my daughter.”

Interacting with the app is as simple as asking a local friend for advice, thanks to the use of Watson’s natural language processing APIs. Here are the Watson APIs used for the app: Watson Conversation and Watson Text to Speech.

Ask, and Watson answers.

While interaction is simple, the conversation tree is complex, taking into account many forms of requests and styles of question. Through machine learning, Watson’s understanding of the questions improves and can be mapped to the answer the user is looking for. Over time the teams are able build a corpus of knowledge of the ways in which guests communicate.

But the app goes beyond responding to guests’ queries. It uses location services to provide both an audio tour of 17-Mile Drive — full of detail on points of interest as you drive past them — and an opportunity for guests to be alerted on what is happening nearby.

Delivered on Bluemix

The Pebble Beach application is run through a Bluemix Service which acts as a broker into the conversation API. This provides a robust framework to the end user applications and allows business rules and logic to be inserted into responses to the user. The broker achieves this by abstracting away the end Conversation tool from the client application. It provides a standardized framework for communication that allows the team to upgrade, change and enhance the conversation flow without a need to continuously update the client application.

The architecture is detailed below:

Standardized framework for communication.
Standardized framework for communication.


Pebble Beach is a stunning destination, full of rich history but also a vibrant present. Now it can boast a digital experience as personal, adaptable and lively as the resort itself, showcasing all the area has to offer.

The framework is a Liberty runtime that is deployed into multiple regions, providing increased resilience and availability. In the unlikely event of a region outage the applications receive a configuration update to tell them to dynamically switch communication to another available Bluemix region.

In addition, the team logs every request and response into a noSQL Cloudant data store for evaluation and review to help enhance the conversation responses and propose new conversation flows.

Finally, the team integrated with Watson Content Automation (formerly IBM Mobile Marketing Cloud) to enable push notification delivery to the clients.

For the user, this means notifications of important events, right when they need them. When trail rides at the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center start soon, if there are new off–the–menu happy hour specials nearby, or if the bagpiper is playing at sunset this evening, the Pebble Beach app will let guests know in real time.



1 comment on"Behind the Code: Watson at Pebble Beach"

  1. Rebecca Poole May 15, 2017

    Hi – can you put me in contact with the author of this article? There’s a number of Brian Adams in IBM and so far I have not found the right Brian Adams. Any knowledgeable IBMer on this case study actually works. I have a very interested Australian customer who I would like to set up a call with the IBM contact knowledgeable on this case study.

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