IBM Watson's next adventure: Healthcare with Nuance

IBM has said its Watson computer would be applied beyond Jeopardy and now is making good on that promise. IBM and Nuance Communications have launched a research program to commercialize Watson for the healthcare industry.

IBM has said its Watson computer would be applied beyond Jeopardy and now is making good on that promise. IBM and Nuance Communications have launched a research program to commercialize Watson for the healthcare industry.

If you recall, Nuance has a big footprint in the healthcare market where voice recognition is common. The plan for IBM and Nuance is to combine Big Blue's Deep Question Answering (QA), natural language processing and machine learning with Nuance's speech recognition and clinical language understanding software.

IBM and Nuance expect the first commercial tools from the Watson collaboration to be available in about 18 to 24 months. Columbia University Medical Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine are also participating in the effort. The idea for Columbia and the University of Maryland is to figure out where Watson can be the most useful to doctors.

The overall goal for Watson is to sort through volumes of data to help physicians find answers, previous cases and reference material.

Under the terms of the research effort, IBM and Nuance will both invest in a five-year research to apply Watson's technology. IBM also licensed Watson's technology to Nuance, which becomes a preferred partner of Big Blue.

Related: IBM's Watson wins Jeopardy practice round: Can humans hang?

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