IBM Corp. has a new plan for its Watson supercomputer: to support consumers’ personal health and fitness goals.
Big Blue has invested an unspecified amount in Pathway Genomics Corp., a clinical laboratory that offers genetic testing. The companies will jointly develop a personalized health and fitness mobile app for consumers that will use Watson’s ability to understand the complexities of human language.
The app, called Pathway Panorama, will enable consumers to ask the app health-related questions (“How much exercise should I do today?”) with personalized answers being drawn from data collected through genetic tests, electronic health records, wearable monitoring devices, DNA, lifestyle and wellness-related biomarkers, mobile apps, and Watson’s ability to search and reference information from medical journals, among other data sources.
Pathway Panorama also will monitor a consumer user’s health and wellness information and suggest relevant recommendations, according to the companies. The IBM investment in Pathway Genomics brings the company’s funding over six years to more than $80 million.
Watson uses natural language processing technology that enables a computer to understand human speech. Over several years, it has been taught to understand the languages of medicine, chemistry, biology, legal and intellectual property, as well as understand contexts of the languages.
The investment in Pathway Genomics to foster personalized app-generated health information is the second new Watson initiative announced in recent days. The Cleveland Clinic is expanding its use of Watson to identify patterns in genome sequencing and medical data, and review medical journal databases, to support personalized treatment of cancer patients. The clinic was an early adopter of Watson and helped teach it to interact with clinicians to improve clinical decision support.
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