IBM's Watson Is Ready To See You Now—In Your Dermatologist's Office

Among other new applications for its cognitive-computing platform, the company announced today that it's licensing Watson as a diagnostic tool for dermatologists.

Big Blue wants you to get to know Watson better. And now that means you could soon encounter the super-computer in a most intimate place--your dermatologist's office.

Early last year IBM announced plans to invest $1 billion into its cognitive-computing platform Watson.

That money included $100 million in venture capital for companies developing new ways to use Watson. Today IBM reveals that one of the companies they are investing in will bring artificial intelligence into dermatologists' offices.

Modernizing Medicine, a Florida-based firm which produces iPad software for electronic medical record-keeping, is partnering with IBM to integrate Watson into their software package for dermatologists. IBM says the early version of their software, which will launch later this year, is designed to speed up medical coding and note-taking for dermatologists’ offices. It uses natural language processing, and what IBM calls “hypothesis generation capabilities” when treating patients with possible skin cancers and other dermatological conditions. Watson will be available to dermatologists through either a dedicated iPad app or a web portal.

A promotional YouTube video for Modernizing Medicine’s current dermatology software package, which does not yet include Watson capabilities, can be seen here:

The Modernizing Medicine announcement is part of a larger IBM agenda announced on Friday, including apps by third-party providers that integrate Watson’s API into their services. The $100 million VC investment was designed to help fund uses for Watson that IBM can’t or would rather not develop on their own.

“We’re continuing to roll out the Watson platform as a very solid ecosystem to build on top of," Claudia Fan Munce, a managing director with IBM’s Venture Capital group, tells Fast Company. "As you can imagine, venture is a very strong pipeline to find the best entrepreneurial companies with unique solutions.”

Two other Watson-enhanced commercial applications were revealed today. Retail workforce software firm Reflexis announced a package called “StorePulse” that uses machine learning that parses information feeds about local weather and events to automatically generate tasks and events for local and regional store managers. Financial app maker Modulus also showed an early version of their new SharpeMind product, which leverages real-time firehoses of news feeds, social media data, and government reports to provide trading signals for retail traders and fund managers.

IBM has been pushing to expand the use of Watson in health care settings (especially in oncology) and in retail over the past year. And over the rest of this year, the Watson-ification of the world will only increase.

[Images: Skin and Watson]

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