Bringing IBM Watson into the palm of your hand
When he goes into the application later, Watson asks Scott how his appointment went, and he tells Watson that he found out that he’s pre-diabetic. Watson then goes on to answer any questions Scott has about the condition and even suggests activities he can engage in to improve his health.
“It leverages the power of cognitive computing and Watson to allow you to have a personal dialogue, and acts as your personal health guide,” said Allen.
Behind the scenes, it’s extremely complex. “It might look simple by design but there’s a number of pieces in here that need to go in from a technology perspective to make something like that happen, to make something like that real,” said Sridhar Sudarsan, chief technical officer of the IBM Watson Ecosystem.
Sudarsan explained that one of the things that sets the Watson technology apart from technology available today is its cognitive nature. Other applications can help a user find a restaurant based on the distance and their preferences but the Watson technology can recommend a restaurant based on the user’s dietary needs and interest through all of the conversations they had in the past with the technology.
“That’s what we’re trying to do here, with Watson — bring in that cognitive computing piece,” said Sudarsan. “That’s one big missing gap that we’re bringing in.”
He said this is the start of a new era of computing that’s moving away from programmatic computing toward cognitive computing. It’s shifting toward technology that can understand and sift through large amounts of data, which is important since the majority of data today is unstructured and it’s continuing to grow.
But the question remains as to how Watson is going to help health care from a doctor’s perspective. Sudarsan explained that one in five doctors use evidence-based knowledge and almost 80 percent of doctors spend five hours researching new studies or literature every month. Doctors don’t always have the bandwidth to learn and research all of that, and that’s where Watson could come in.
IBM is also trying to figure out how they can help doctors diagnose cancers, especially lung and breast cancer. “We’re trying to see how we can take Watson out into the areas where don’t have expertise,” said Sudarsan.
CafeWell Concierge is still under development now but Allen and Sudarsan said that it will be available this fall.