IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems - April 2017 - 6
H&R Block has aimed to help clients secure
their maximum tax refund since 1955. To
do this, the company needs to avoid the
basic check-the-box approach to filing tax
returns. Enter IBM Watson*.
The federal tax code is more than
74,000 pages long and thousands of yearly
tax law changes exist, all of which impacts
a client's tax outcome. In a new collaboration, H&R Block and IBM development
teams have trained Watson in the language
of tax, applying the technology to the thousands of questions and topics discussed
during the return filing process.
H&R Block's recent partnership with
IBM represents the first time Watson will
be applied to tax preparation. The solution uses cloud-based Watson services to
understand context, interpret intent, and
draw connections between clients' statements and relevant areas of their return.
Clients can now follow the tax return
process using a companion screen, which
makes the process more digestible.
H&R Block CEO Bill Cobb (left) and IBM's
David Kenny (right) announced earlier
this year that H&R Block will use a new,
consumer-facing technology that incorporates
IBM Watson. It's the largest deployment of
Watson in retail locations.
PHOTO: GUERIN BLASK
Account Me In
Thanks to new LED arrays
made up of tiny nanorods,
a generation of devices
that can be controlled with
touchless gestures is on
Nanorods consist of
three types of semiconductor material. One emits and
absorbs visible light while
IMAGE COURTESY OF MOONSUB SHIM,
the other two control how
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
a charge flows through the
first type, allowing LEDs to
emit, sense and respond to light. This means a device
could detect the brightness of one's location and automatically adjust its contrast based on current lighting.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
researchers did all of their demonstrations with arrays
of red LEDs. They have since started working on
methods to pattern three-color displays with red,
blue and green pixels.
The Buzz on
In response to concerns about the dwindling bumblebee population, Japanese scientists have created drones that mimic
pollenating behavior. During testing, the drones successfully
grabbed and released pollen from the male and female parts
of pink and white Japanese lilies. It's not a practical solution
just yet, however. Lilies have some of the
largest sex organs amongst plants,
and the drone pollination was still
a challenge. Further development using high-resolution
cameras, GPS and artificial
will hopefully increase the
efficiency of the drone's
design, which currently
consists of horsehair and
liquid ion gels fastened to a
basic $100 drone.
6 // APRIL 2017 ibmsystemsmag.com