Smartphone 'voices' not always helpful in health crisis

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

CHICAGO (AP) — It can give you street directions but how helpful is your smartphone's virtual voice in a health crisis? A study says the answer is often "not very."

Researchers presented four popular virtual assistants with statements about rape, suicide, depression and other major health problems. The answers varied widely. Some offered helpline numbers but the apps often didn't understand the context.

It might seem unreasonable to expect this technology to offer much more than addresses. But the researchers and even some tech experts say it has untapped public health potential.

The results were published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.