Hubro – a result of IBM's collaboration with the Media Cluster

Published 11.09.2018
Hubro, a Watson powered chatbot, is the first result of the partnership between Media Lab partner IBM and the University of Bergen to develop the technological solutions of the future.

Last year, The University of Bergen (UiB) and IBM partnered up to make IBM AI technology and analysis available on UiB’s learning platform. It also opened up for students to participate in innovation projects with IBM and their customers. The cooperation facilitates joint research- and innovation projects, and also include access to Watson based cognitive technology. 

Now, this collaboration is giving results, as the chatbot, Hubro, has been developed by IT staff at UiB and IBM. Hubro is powered by Watson, IBM's cloud-based AI-engine, and the intelligent virtual assistant is now being tested by students at the Faculty of Humanities. The chatbot is being trained to make life easier for students, and help offload work from the staff.

Hubro tried and tested
Sindre Molnes, one of the students at UiB Faculty of Humanities, sit on both sides of the table.

– As a Master’s student, I more or less know my way around, and who to contact if I need help. But this summer, I was working at the faculty’s student information center, helping new students. There, I got a very good insight into common issues that newcomers need help with, such as how to sign up for classes, registering a user in our IT-systems, and specific classes that everyone needs to take, he said.  

– Hubro is so much quicker than us humans, when it comes to retrieving relevant information, for instance from the UiB website. He has only been available for a couple of weeks, and still has a lot to learn, but he is already able to help out with basic queries such as ‘What languages can you study at UiB?’ or ‘What time does the cafeteria close today?’

Like any AI and machine-learning application, Hubro needs data-input and training over time to function optimally. 

Demonstration of the Hubro chatbot. 

What is one thing that Hubro cannot do, where you still need help from humans?

– We have people in-house who help students with the big questions. Whether they should change studies, or which Master’s degree would be ideal. Hubro can give you all kinds of useful information, but he cannot make these big decisions for you. 

Media partnerships
IBM moved into Media City Bergen earlier this year and works closely with companies in the Media Cluster.

– For the media companies, it is more of a two-way collaboration, rather than a supplier-client relationship, explains Stein Irgens, Client Executive & Location Manager at IBM Bergen. 

– We provide our clients with media industry solutions based on AI and Watson Technology, and they have the media & broadcast knowledge. One of the projects we are working on here in Bergen, is a cloud based live speech-to-text solution together with several media-companies. Our goal is to enable TV-channels to add sub-titles to their live shows, in real-time. This technology is powerful enough to detect the sentiment of the person talking. 

Stein Irgens, Client Executive & Location Manager IBM Bergen

In addition to the live speech-to-text project, IBM Bergen develops technology for interactive live-streaming, highlight-clipping for live-shows, and tailor-made advertising, and more. 

– These new models of collaboration are pioneering, also for us. That being said, Media City Bergen attracts a lot of attention within IBM globally. Last year, the global product-owner for Watson, Beth Smith, was here for a round-table with our clients in the media-cluster. 

Watson is used across numerous industries, here in Bergen both maritime and health are two major areas of application, apart from media. 

– IBM are not the only one offering AI and machine learning technology. But for media companies, it is our long-standing collaborations, and in-depth knowledge of this industry, together with our Media solutions that makes IBM a good partner.

Written by Hilde Gudvangen

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