IBM’s Watson: Analyzing Data to Predict the Success of Guide Dog Puppies in Training
If there are two things that seem to be polar opposites, it's the warm exuberance of puppies and the cold intelligence of a supercomputer like IBM's Watson. At Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights, New York, need has brought the two together -- to help determine which puppies are good candidates to serve the blind. "The incidence of blindness is increasing at an incredibly and somewhat alarming rate," said Thomas Panek, CEO of the guide dog organization. Panek lost his sight in his 20s. "Only about 36 percent of the dogs make it" as a guide dog, he said.
Some new recruits
To be a successful guide dog, puppies need to be healthy, confident enough to take charge and make decisions on the fly, and most of all, they have to enjoy the work. For decades, Guiding Eyes for the Blind has been accumulating data, some of it provided by puppy raisers like Lorraine Trapani, who is also an IBM employee. "TJ is 4 months old and I've already started to collect data on his behavior, things we're working on, things he might be interested in, a bee that's flying by. Things we need to work on so when he's a guide dog, he can ignore those distractions," Trapani said.
One trainee inspects an umbrella
That's where IBM's Watson comes in. So far, Watson has analyzed half a million kilobytes of behavioral data, and that's just the beginning.  
Source: CBS NEWS


The North Carolina Assistive Technology Program (NCATP) leads North Carolina's efforts to carry out the federal Assistive Technology Act of 2004. We promote independence for people with disabilities through access to technology. Visit our website at
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