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IBM Watson Powers Virtual Assistant For Arthritis Research UK

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2106. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security and government IT, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

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The system is currently being tested by 300 people with arthritis to provide immediate and informative answers

Arthritis Research UK and IBM have joined forces to develop a Watson-powered ‘virtual personal assistant’ that will provide information and advice to sufferers of Arthritis.

Patients will have access to personalised information from the Arthritis Research UK website, delivered in a natural, conversational form on PCs and mobile devices without the need to download an app.

The system is currently being tested by 300 people with the condition, before it is publicly launched later this year.

computer health, healthcare

Dr. Watson

Arthritis Research UK’s website receives thousands of personal questions about the day-to-day impact of arthritis every year and the aim for the personal assistant is to remove the often daunting experience of trying to find answers to those questions.

By tapping into IBM’s Watson Conversation API, the charity will be able to provide patients with immediate and informative answers that are personally tailored to them.

“We want to ensure that everyone has access to information and support, whenever and wherever they need it,” said Liam O’Toole, Chief Executive Officer at Arthritis Research UK

“We’re really excited to be working with IBM Watson on this innovative new service that will enable us to have conversations with anyone seeking help, that we simply wouldn’t be able to answer so quickly otherwise. We’re confident that this new virtual assistant will help more people push back the ways arthritis limits their lives.”

The service will initially provide general information about arthritis and will develop with each interaction to refine the information that is delivered and provide answers to a wider range of question, such as those related to diet and treatment options.

The charity’s long term plan is to leverage Watson’s cognitive voice input and output capabilities, enabling it to understand questions delivered via speech as well as those typed via a keyboard.

Cameron Brooks, IBM European Director for Watson in the Public Sector, described the service as “a model for organisations thinking about how they might integrate cognitive computing into their services in order to positively impact the lives of people living with a serious health condition.”

Watson has been busy spreading its wings in recent months, as IBM has announced moves into the Internet of Things (IoT) and the automotive industry with BMW, as well as more work in healthcare through a hospital in Germany.

More recently, Watson has been busy providing artificial intelligence (AI) to the cyber security industry and will be combined with Einstein, Salesforce’s own AI system.

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