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Watch Your Tone! Now IBM’s Watson Can Detect Attitude In Your Writing

The latest tool in IBM’s cognitive computing platform can help you analyze the way your words come across to others.

Watch Your Tone! Now IBM’s Watson Can Detect Attitude In Your Writing
[Photo: Flickr user James Theophane]

We’ve all had someone, perhaps a parent or teacher, tell us to “watch our tone.”

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Now, IBM wants you to be able to tell how your tone comes across in written communications. Today, Big Blue unveiled Watson Tone Analyzer, the latest tool in the company’s growing suite of cognitive computing applications.

Watson is best known as the computer system that autonomously vanquished the world’s best Jeopardy players during a highly publicized competition in 2011. In the years since then, IBM has applied the system to a wide range of computing problems in industries like health care, banking, retail, and education. The system is based on Watson’s ability to understand natural language queries and to analyze huge data sets.


With Tone Analyzer, IBM is giving developers a way to embed automatic linguistic analysis in their applications, in a bid to improve the way we communicate with each other.

“Much like a spell check,” IBM wrote, “Tone Analyzer can be used to perform a ‘tone check’ to provide insights about three types of tones in a piece of text including emotion (negative emotions, cheerfulness, anger), social propensities (openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness), and writing styles (analytical, confident, and tentative). It can even make suggestions for alternative word choices to soften or strengthen a desired tone.”

IBM argues that knowing how we come across in written communications could be helpful as we craft both personal and business missives, as well as editorial, marketing, or social media communications. Brands, too, could benefit, the company said.

“For example, in the context of a marketing campaign, this API could be used together with Personality Insights to help a brand understand the personality attributes of target customers,” IBM said, “and use Tone Analyzer to help craft and refine a message with a tone of language that would best resonate with those customers.”

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Try the Watson Tone Analyzer for yourself here, either by checking the tone in a pre-written block of text, or by entering your own.

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About the author

Daniel Terdiman is a San Francisco-based technology journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. A veteran of CNET and VentureBeat, Daniel has also written for Wired, The New York Times, Time, and many other publications

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