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TheStreet Open House

Here's How Consumers Can Now Use Watson

Stocks in this article: IBM

NEW YORK (TheStreet) –– IBM (IBM) will begin using its supercomputer, Watson, to assist military personnel transitioning out of service, the company announced today.

USAA, a financial services firm whose 10.3 million members are all veterans and their families, will offer IBM’s Watson Engagement Advisor to members of the military returning to civilian life—155,000 each year. Watson has been programmed with and understands more than 3,000 documents pertaining to military transitions, which will “empower retiring military members [by] allowing them to tap into Watson's cognitive intellect to assist them.”

Transitioning military members can access Watson by visiting usaa.com or through their mobile browser. Questions Watson is equipped to answer include “What is the best way to write a resume?” or “How do I make the most of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill?” Watson’s analytics will also allow USAA to collect data on its users to offer a more personalized experience.

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The Watson partnership “reinforces our commitment to finding innovative and distinctive ways to make our members’ lives easier,” Shon Manasco, executive vice president of member experience at USAA, said in a press release. “Through this experience, we expect to learn how intelligent assistants like IBM Watson can help service members who may not know exactly where or how to start the daunting transition process.”

“Putting Watson into the hands of consumers is a critical milestone toward improving how we work and live," said Mike Rhodin, senior vice president, IBM Watson Group. “USAA’s innovative application is a prime example of how Watson's cognitive intellect has the potential to empower individuals and organizations.” He added, “We believe this new service can help men and women who served their country gain timely and relevant insights into the steps they need to successfully move to civilian life.”

Watson was originally developed by IBM to compete on the quiz show Jeopardy!. It won $1 million in its first Jeopardy! competition, a 2011 victory against former champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings. The USAA partnership marks the first time Watson is being used as a consumer facing app.

IBM is also using Watson to co-develop an application with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. In addition, IBM has partnered with WellPoint, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.

--Written by Laura Berman in New York

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