IBM’s Watson Helps Design LED-Filled Dress For The Met Gala

At the Met Gala in Manhattan tonight, one model will be wearing a “cognitive dress”: A gown, designed by fashion house Marchesa, that will shift in color based on input from IBM’s Watson supercomputer. The dress features gauzy white roses, each embedded with an LED that will display different colors depending on the general sentiment of tweets about the Met Gala. The algorithm powering the dress relies on Watson Color Theory, which links emotions to colors, and on the Watson Tone Analyzer, a service that can detect emotion in text.

In addition to the color-changing cognitive dress, Marchesa designers are using Watson to get new color palette ideas. The designers choose from a list of emotions and concepts—things like romance, excitement, and power—and Watson recommends a palette of colors it associates with those sentiments.

This may seem like a strange project for IBM, but Watson strategist Jeff Arn says it’s part of a larger initiative to see how Watson can be useful across a range of industries. “The core mission is, how do we create partnerships between humans and cognitive systems to enhance what either of them can do alone? How can technology impact how people approach creativity, decision making, and daily work?”

Update 5/3/2016: The model to wear the Watson gown was Karolina Kurkova. Here’s a video of her in the dress: