Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. 80,000 cases of cancer are diagnosed in Canada every year. 5000 of these cases are melanoma, the deadliest form of cancer (Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation). Current prevention efforts to reduce skin cancer focus on educating individuals on preventative actions that they can take to reduce the risk of this cancer. However, research has shown that both communication failure and information overload are significant problems affecting the quality of patient centered care. Social robotics and artificial intelligence have been used effectively to communicate and positively influence behavior, thus this research proposes to develop and test these combined technologies as an intervention for skin cancer prevention education.

The research team and collaborating research partner IBM will integrate IBM Watson cognitive computing applications with Softbank Robotics advanced robotics platform, the Pepper robot. The Watson Pepper prototype will be used as a controlled variable in a randomized controlled clinical trial (N = 200) to assess the efficacy of socially assistive robotics intervention for behavioural change in skin cancer prevention knowledge and practices among medical patients, the first clinically tested implementation of a Watson Pepper robot for healthcare communication. The research proposes commercialization and business implementation of the integrated IBM Watson robot in an expanded scale and scope of healthcare communication applications. To support the achievement of this innovative technology milestone, SOSCIP will provide the critical cloud data analytics and memory capacity to support the analysis and modeling of the large multivariate data sets associated with this project.

Industry Partner(s):IBM Canada Ltd.

Academic Institution:McMaster University

Academic Researcher: David Harris Smith

Co-PI Name: Hermenio Lima, Frauke Zeller

Focus Areas: Cybersecurity, Digital Media, Health

Platforms: Cloud