In the Game: The Interface between Watson and Jeopardy!

. IBM Journal of Research and Development 56 (3/4): 17:1--17:6 (2012)


To play as a contestant in Jeopardy!, IBM Watson needed an interface program to handle the communications between the Jeopardy! computers that operate the game and its own components: question answering, game strategy, speech, buzzer, etc. Because Watson cannot hear or see, when the categories and clues were displayed on the game board, they were also sent electronically to Watson. The program also monitored signals generated when the buzzer system was activated and when a contestant successfully rang in. If Watson was confident of its answer, it triggered a solenoid to depress its buzzer button and used a text-to-speech system to speak its response. Since it did not hear the host's judgment, it relied on changes to the scores and the game flow to infer whether its answer was correct. The interface program had to use what were sometimes conflicting events to determine the state of the game without any human intervention.

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