AI is arguably the most fascinating development within the digital world and is an important aspect of what many have termed our "fourth industrial revolution." It is a burgeoning industry with nearly unfathomable potential. A recent report by Transparency Market Research in 2015 forecast the global market for AI to reach $3 trillion by 2024—that's trillion with a "t," which equates to nearly a quarter of the current U.S. GDP! However, at this early stage it is important to remember that these market forecasts are largely guesswork. The truth is, we don't really know what the AI marketplace will look like in five years, let alone eight. Still, the sheer magnitude of the projection is telling in that it underscores just how revolutionary this technology is expected to become.

"Real AI" has yet to be achieved. This may or may never happen, and that is more of a philosophical argument that we need not delve into at this time. However, where many companies are making exciting progress is within the field of narrow AI or "augmented intelligence," which utilizes practical applications of machine learning, cognitive computing, data storage, and information processing to inform organizational decision making and problem solving at a scale and rate that are fundamentally superior to the human brain.

These tools are currently being utilized across a multitude of domains, which include education, financial services, and even environmental management. However, one focus area that is particularly intriguing is the work being done within the healthcare space, an industry where digitization is already enacting disruptive change and where the use of digital media is playing an increasingly vital role as a medium for interacting with patients and enhancing overall data capture.

iDAvatars

Manatt Digital is currently tracking the progress of iDAvatars, a leader in the effort to enhance the world of digital health via the implementation of AI systems.

iDAvatars was founded in 2013 and merged with CodeBaby (a Colorado virtual assistant technology) in 2016. The combined entity builds intelligent, conversational avatars that engage with users and aid in front-end data collection for healthcare providers and caregivers. The company is currently a partner with IBM Watson and is a core part of its AI roadshow that is effectively leading the conversations around the use of AI within healthcare and its overall possibilities.

The company's current focus is on aggregating verbal and nonverbal communication through the use of emotionally intelligent avatars that combine human-like characteristic with advanced technologies such as emotion and facial recognition (meet "Sophie" below). Its existing solutions have the ability to collect data about the user via talk, text or touch and can in turn share data points with participant healthcare providers and its associated caregivers.

Why is this important? In short, because the merging of objective and subjective data in healthcare is an ongoing challenge. Your blood pressure is measureable, whereas "how you are feeling" is far more difficult to quantify. Still, both data points are relevant to your doctor in diagnosis and treatment evaluations. As such, the ability for AI and intelligent bots to provide the rapid data aggregation and distribution is a compelling value proposition that can both alleviate existing pain points and greatly improve efficiency. Industry leaders expect that this combination of objective and subjective data into a single diagnostic step through AI systems will not only provide more comprehensive patient data, but will also provide better patient outcomes and cost savings.