Charity organisation Arthritis Research UK has partnered with IBM to develop a virtual personal assistant powered by Watson Health, to provide information and advice for people with arthritis.

The aim of the new initiative is to offer access to personalised information from the Arthritis Research UK website in a form that is similar to a natural conversation.

Accessible on mobile phones and computers, the service does not require download of an app.

"We want to ensure that everyone has access to information and support, whenever and wherever they need it."

Arthritis Research UK is currently working with 300 people to test and obtain feedback prior to the launch of the service on its website later this year.

The organisation has leveraged IBM's Watson Conversation API, to quickly and easily answer questions by every person who is seeking information about arthritis.

Arthritis Research UK chief executive officer Liam O'Toole said: "We know that there are millions of people in the UK living with arthritis whose lives are severely limited as they struggle with unanswered questions.

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"We want to ensure that everyone has access to information and support, whenever and wherever they need it."

While the service will initially be able to provide general information about arthritis and exercise, the knowledge base is expected to grow over time to allow Arthritis Research UK to answer more questions.

The charity's information and enquiries line will support the service by assisting in answering detailed or complex questions.

The organisation plans to further utilise Watson cognitive voice input / output and location services to expand its capabilities to understand questions delivered through speech.