Sammy Nickalls
June 20, 2016 9:25 am
Warner Bros. Pictures

The day after Father’s Day, we know who the *actual* father of the year is: Ryan Anderson, who built his daughters their very own Harry Potter Sorting Hat. However, he didn’t use magic for this creation — he used science.

Ryan, a solutions architect for IBM Watson, put his tech-y brain to work for his daughters — Lucy, 8, and Julia, 6. “I was thinking of fun projects and, coincidentally, I have a couple daughters and they are mad keen on Harry Potter,” he told Tech Insider. “[T]hey’ve read the books like five times.”

Using Watson’s Natural Language Classifier and Speech to Text feature, the hat is able to categorize you based on how you describe yourself; for example, based on Ryan’s coding, words like “clever” would place you in Ravenclaw. 

Associating words with certain houses is called “setting a ground truth,” and it just involves putting the adjectives in one column with the correct house in the other; Ryan explained that Lucy actually did most of this on her own. “I started with five or six rows and Lucy looked over my shoulder and said she wanted to try and she created 150 lines,” he told Tech Insider.

The hat can even learn over time and start to add characteristics to each house on its own by scanning the Internet, though if it gets a ground truth wrong, he can correct it. Ryan also tested the Sorting Hat’s capabilities on famous people such as Stephen Hawking (Ravenclaw), Hillary Clinton (Ravenclaw), and Donald Trump (Gryffindor, for his “boldness”). “I may, time permitting, for next Halloween give it more personality and make it more dynamic,” he told Tech Insider.

That’s not to say the hat doesn’t already have some fun animation features; if you’re sorted into Slytherin, its eyebrows will furrow in concern, while Gryffindor will make its eyes turn green (sure, a Slytherin color, but also the color of Harry’s eyes, after all!). Dad of the year? Absolutely.

Advertisement