Cognitive Computing Helps Vision Impaired
‘Guiding Eyes for the Blind’ uses IBM cognitive computing to find insights into breeding and raising service dogs

Data analytics, a force for change in nearly every business, is now being leveraged to make lives easier for the vision impaired by increasing the graduation rate for guide dogs.

According to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a nonprofit that breeds and trains service guide dogs, a mix of genetic and temperament data combined with natural language processing will bump the graduation rate to 59 percent from fewer than half. The initiative is also expected to lower the $50,000 cost to train each dog.

Guiding Eyes is using a combination of IBM Bluemix and Watson to analyze the organization’s structured and unstructured data. By moving half a million medical and genetic records and more than 65,000 temperament records to the cloud, Guiding Eyes uncovered insights into genetic, health, behavioral, and environmental factors that correlate to successful guide dog behavior and performance.

The organization is also applying natural language processing to trainer and foster family questionnaire answers to uncover insights into personalities and temperaments. This information is expected to improve the process of breeding, raising, and matching service dogs to owner.  

Cognitive Potential

Cognitive computing simulates human thought processes in a computerized model. According to author Bernard Marr, who has written several books about big data in business, the intent of cognitive technology is not to replace humans, but to expand on our capabilities and allow us to better process and understand the world around us.

IBM executives recently told Fortune that cognitive computing or machine learning is expected to become a $2 trillion USD market in the next 10 years, in addition to the $3 trillion opportunity in more traditional IT gear like servers, software, storage boxes. For startups, it presents a lucrative opportunity that can help deliver more innovative solutions and enhanced customer experiences across every industry.

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