Like most major companies, Planned Parenthood has worked hard to stay technologically relevant, devising texting and chat services that make their services readily available to patients and interested parties. Now, they’ve introduced Roo, a bot specifically designed for teens who’s ready to answer questions 24/7.
Roo was developed by experts and psychologists who compiled data and interviewed teens in order to build the necessary database for the app. Once their research concluded, Planned Parenthood and web design company Work & Co agreed that the best way to reach teens would be through a chat bot, since this is the method of communication most high schoolers prefer. When accessing Roo through a smartphone, users will answer a couple of questions until they reach the chat box.
From there on, questions will remain private and confidential. If teens are confused and don’t know what to ask, they can scroll through a list of frequently asked questions. Although there’s all sorts of information available on the internet, Planned Parenthood believes that teens should get their information from verified sources.
“We know that many young people are nervous or embarrassed to ask questions about their sexual health,” said Leana Wan, president of Planned Parenthood, in a statement to Fast Company. “They often go online to get information and ask their questions anonymously. It’s important that our youth receive a reliable answer they can trust . . . we’re excited for Roo to be a credible, approachable resource to get the personalized answers they need.”
As is the case with most AI softwares the more the bot is used and consulted, the smarter that it’ll become. When compared to other bots, Roo is not the brightest, often misunderstanding users’ questions and redirecting them to its main list of suggested questions. Still, the potential is there, and getting answers from Planned Parenthood sounds like a better deal than getting them from WebMD.