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October 4, 2015

IBM & Cardiff solve digital assistant puzzle with Sherlock

News: The app uses a 'controlled natural language' to ensure that the software and its users understand one another.

By CBR Staff Writer

Sherlock smartwatch app

A team of scientists from IBM and Cardiff University has developed a new novel digital assistant SHERLOCK (Simple Human Experiment Regarding Locally Observed Collective Knowledge) for smartphones and tablets.

Sherlock has been designed to help people with their communication with computers and can be of use during emergencies or festivals, the scientists said.

The School of Computer Science & Informatics at Cardiff University worked on the application development, which uses a ‘controlled natural language’ to ensure that the software and its users understand one another.

Much like Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana, Sherlock allows users to ask questions and offers prompt responses on the basis of a ‘local knowledge base’ that it prepares by integrating new information with old information.

Cardiff University School of Computer Science & Informatics professor Alun Preece said: "People like to communicate with computers using natural languages like English, which are hard for computers to understand and process.

"Sherlock can therefore be used to help people communicate more effectively with computerised systems.

"We believe we’re unique in putting Controlled Natural Language technology literally in people’s hands – and, with the Watch app, on their wrists – with the aim of enabling better human-machine understanding and collaboration."

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The technology, which was recently demonstrated at the BBC Make It Digital event in Cardiff, uses combination of local storage on the device with some remote server processing that allows it to function even when disconnected from the cloud.

The Apple version of the app has also been introduced for the first time at the University of Maryland, College Park in the US recently.

Image: Sherlock has been equipped with ‘controlled natural language’ which allows it and the users to understand one another. Photo: courtesy of Cardiff University.

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