Bank of America breaks company record for new Patents in 2020 led by AI and Digital Banking

Erica - Bank of America

Bank of America broke its record for new patents in 2020, with 444 granted patents and 722 applications filed. Those numbers are among the highest for the financial services industry for the year, according to the latest list from the Intellectual Property Owners Association. AI and machine learning patents making up nearly one in five of the total.

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Voicebots, voice AI, and chatbots in psychotherapy — how they help?

Sun and cloud

iteoJust now·6 min readLast decade brought a considerable growth of morbidity in the field of mental health. It’s estimated that over 264 millions of people in the world are clinically depressed, 1 out of 5 kids and teenagers suffers from a mental disease, and alcohol addiction kills even 3 million women and men a year. Statistics are unrelenting, but all of these disorders can be treated with a properly adjusted pharmaco- and psychotherapy. Does the health system cope with such a large number of patients? Unfortunately, not always. Hopefully, artificial intelligence solutions like voicebots and chatbots come to the rescue. You wonder how they can support physicians in a demanding task of taming a human psyche? It turns out that quite effectively. And it’s not a science-fiction movie intro. We live in the XXI century in which a robot can be a reliable psychotherapist, too.Mental health in our every-day realityMental health problems influence the standard of our professional and private lives. They cause insomnia, deterioration of physical health, decreased satisfaction with personal life, and family relationships falloff. Remote work has a varied impact on our lives as well. 62% of interviewees perceive it quite positively. It allows them to spend more time with their families, sleep well, and effectively fulfil their daily chores. On the other hand, working from home can interfere with the boundaries between our private and professional life which can result in working after hours or even a burnout.Stress-inducing effects of pandemicYear 2020 hasn’t been helpful at all, becoming a sad social media meme of the whole world. It resonated with many unpleasant events which destroyed order on nearly every continent and forced us to completely change our lifestyle. Coronavirus and the endangerment it brought aroused anxiety and gloom, increasing the level of stress. We were exposed to the lack of contact with people, being locked at home and a constant fear for the health of our loved ones. In such difficult times, many of us seeked help in psychotherapy. An interaction with another person and a possibility to talk about our maladies and fears can be an effective way to deal with our worries and organize a scattered pandemic reality. But does this person really have to be human?Voice AI — talks and helpsLatest research has shown that when having a choice between talking to a psychotherapist and a voicebot or a chatbot, we prefer to entrust our mental health to artificial intelligence. Why do we choose a contact with a machine instead of another human being? It turns out that bots are simply more understanding — they don’t judge, are free of prejudice and can quickly answer any health-related questions.Advantages of using voicebots and chatbots in psychotherapyAlthough the topic seems a bit controversial, psychotherapists are not afraid of using intelligent bots, especially before contacting a patient for the first time. A clever voicebot or chatbot can help us get accustomed to a new situation, answer basic questions connected with our mental state and offer some further steps of treatment — redirecting us to a qualified medical staff. And that’s not all.1. The use of known and proven psychological practicesBoth voicebots and chatbots can be programmed according to the most effective techniques used in contemporary psychotherapy. A good example is a cognitive-behavioral therapy which deals with symptoms of anxiety and depression. Research shows that it really works! Scientists compared examples of patients who interacted with one of the most known chatbot psychotherapist — Woebot — and a group that seeked support in book guides. The former had a considerable reduction in symptoms, while the latter had no significant changes.It proves that a bot is able to teach patients basic techniques of coping with their mental state — the same ones which they would be introduced to by a psychotherapist. Additional advantage of AI-based solutions is their wide accessibility. A patient who needs help doesn’t have to book an appointment. A chatbot or a voicebot is available 24/7 and ready to listen to our problems regardless of the time.2. Encouragement to seek the help of a specialistEven people with an easy access to medical support often delay their visit to a specialist, risking aggravation of the disease. Why does it happen? It turns out that the largest blocker is the fear of being judged. Additionally, patients often marginalise their state, coming to the conclusion that “everybody’s got their problems” and they will get back to normal soon enough.Fortunately, we have yet another chatbot therapist come to the rescue. It’s a penguin named Wysa which motivates its patients to use professional help. It uses an intelligent mood monitor that detects their worse well-being and encourages them to take a depression test. Although it may sound a little weird, it can be quite useful. Depending on acquired results, a robot can persuade a patient to use psychological help. After all, nobody can resist a cute penguin.Apart from that, Wysa documents our mood swings — thus, we can monitor every mental breakdown and analyze both our state and situations that caused it. Many patients are not aware of how long the symptoms last. Bot makes them realize the seriousness of the situation and the necessity to deal with it.3. Better and more accurate diagnosticsTo make a more accurate diagnosis, a psychotherapist has to be familiarized with a patient’s history, ask some valid questions and suggest an efficient solution. However, treating a patient holistically based on one’s personal experience doesn’t always result in drawing the right conclusions, which may end up frustrating both a doctor and a patient.There’s proof that the process can be made more effective. What helps is thoroughly analyzing patient’s… social media. Wide usage of artificial intelligence on services such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram allows us to analyze a person’s mental state, based on acquired data. An example of the solution’s efficiency is an algorithm created by scientists which was supposed to analyze Instagram posts of chosen patients. As a result, it managed to diagnose as much as 70% of depression cases! For comparison, the effectiveness of doctors is about 42%.Let’s assume that not all of the questions asked by a psychotherapist are relevant, and a patient forgets to mention a few crucial things that would unequivocally point at a certain disease or be a warning sign. Voicebot or chatbot would be able to analyze all of the information more accurately and alarm a doctor about a patent’s deteriorating mental state which would lead to a more effective diagnosis and a proper treatment.4. Solving the problem of medical staff shortageAlthough we can’t really complain about the inaccessibility of a psychological care in larger cities, it can be problematic for people living in smaller towns and villages. There are not enough specialists to take care of all the people who need help — especially in the times of a global crisis and a falloff of the society’s state of mind.Only in the United States more than 106 million people live in areas with a psychological staff shortage problem. As a result, not every patient is able to get to the nearest medical center to use a specialist’s help. In that case, using an intelligent bot seems like the last resort. It can for example inform a doctor that a patient could be suicidal.Voicebot in the psychotherapist’s officeVoice AI solutions can also be a direct support for psychotherapists in organizing their every-day office work. A voicebot is able to:Answer a phone call, provide basic information, and appoint a visitContact a chosen group of patients if there’s a need of cancelling a visit and arrange another dateCall patients to confirm their visitsInform about promotions, dedicated events, and group classesAct as a knowledge base, providing patients with in-depth information on a chosen topicPsychotherapy of the future — summing upAlthough applications that support psychotherapists are still quite fresh, both WHO and their users indicate that they’re a necessary solution. Wide usage of smartphones and seamless Wi-Fi connection make a robot accessible for thousands of patients, allowing them to conveniently and anonymously use the help they need.In the future, voicebots and chatbots will be used for even better detection of human emotions. Though, we can’t really count on them to completely replace psychotherapists, they can support their every-day duties and let them do their job more accurately and efficiently.If you’re wondering how to use a voicebot in your own business, we’ll be happy to adjust the solution to your patients’ and offices’ needs. Just let us know!

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Nuance acquires Medical Voice Assistant Startup Saykara

Saykara Nuance

Nuance announced that it had acquired healthcare artificial intelligence startup Saykara for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition will bring the tech underlying Saykara’s voice assistant for doctors to Nuance’s conversational AI fro medical professionals, specifically the ambient clinical intelligence (ACI) designed to reduce doctor burnout.

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WeWalk smart cane guides visually impaired during Pandemic with Voice Assistant and Ultrasonics

Woman with Smart Cane

Canes have enabled people with impaired vision to travel safely on their own for a very long time. British tech startup WeWalk upgrades that ancient tool with a voice assistant built into its eponymous ‘smart cane’ as part of a suite of high-tech tools for navigating safely. WeWalk, which recently joined Microsoft’s AI for Accessibility program, highlights how voice AI can be applied to improving accessibility, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of so many people with disabilities.

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Microsoft is adding new Cortana voice AI features to Outlook and Teams


Microsoft is adding new voice AI features to its iOS mobile apps built around its Cortana voice assistant. The updates are part of Microsoft’s ongoing reintroduction of Cortana via Microsoft 365 products after ending its independent existence over the last year. Microsoft Outlook, Teams, Lens, and Office are all going to get additional natural language controls and interactive functions.

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Qualcomm becomes 2nd Alexa Custom Assistant client with new Snapdragon Automotive Cockpit Platforms

Virtual car cockpit

Amazon Alexa will be a native component of Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon Automotive Cockpit Platforms, providing the basis for voice assistants in cars built by General Motors and other automotive manufacturers. Qualcomm will be the second company to design a custom, branded voice assistant using Amazon’s new Alexa Custom Assistant platform after it rolled out with Fiat Chrysler earlier in January.

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National Consumer Survey reveals that a lot of Consumers want Voice Assistants in Mobile Apps

Smartphone Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report considered new inquiries in 2020 around customer interest and voice communication inside versatile applications. A key finding is that customers have a substantial interest in voice intuitiveness inside versatile applications and more involvement in these highlights than numerous individuals figure out.

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Alexa can now adjust your Smart Home Devices without needing to Ask Permission


Alexa device owners can now set the voice assistant to operate smart devices without asking permission every time. Amazon rolled out the proactive Alexa Hunches option to users this week, about a month after previewing it for manufacturers of Alexa-enabled smart home devices.

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Voice AI in 2021 — will it finally speak out?

New year, new voice AI solutions? Well, why not? Artificial intelligence doesn’t laze around and constantly influences all of its fields of expertise. Although voice technologies are quite fresh, they found their own place on the market and have a continuous impact on developing various industry branches. Maybe they still haven’t launched like a rocket, but the path is being paved in front of our eyes. Here are some of the most realistic forecasts for 2021.

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Amazon’s Alexa will now guess what skills you want to use based on your questions

Amazon’s Alexa has always made us wonder with its latest and upgraded features to assist us in our daily tasks. The company says that it’s Artificial Intelligence assistant has more than 10,000 skills. However, not all of them are useful and used by users across the world. Those are the skills that are much harder to discover as well. Earlier in November, Amazon had announced that it has launched its new way to surface skills.

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Facebook and Dolby join Amazon’s Voice Interoperability Initiative

Last September, Amazon unveiled the Voice Interoperability Initiative. Today, the company announced the addition of 38 new members including Dolby, Facebook, Garmin, and Xiaomi to the initiative, bringing the total number of member companies to 77. (Google remains conspicuously absent from the list.)

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Voice Assistants & Artificial Intelligence - A futuristic approach

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning have changed the way we perceived the future of technology to be. With more devices adapting to this technology, it comes to no surprise as to how well we humans have altered the consumer trends and our lifestyle as per the new technological evolutions. The addition of voice assistants and smart speakers to it is just another name on the list.

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