Uppy: Finding the Perfect Strain for Your Pain
Matching cannabis strains to ailments has been a significant challenge for medical marijuana users. In July 2018, Namaste Technologies launched the Uppy app, an AI algorithm designed to create a baseline of better information. Industry News’s Michael Warren interviewed Namaste’s interim CEO Meni Morim to gauge Uppy’s success one year later.
Until recently, it’s only been through word of mouth, searching the web for anecdotes, or in cannabis publications that medical marijuana users could source strains that were known to effectively treat their specific health issues. Even then, however, time-intensive hit-and-miss research and experimentation were the only ways medical marijuana users could find the perfect strain for their pain.
Then, on July 19, 2018, Namaste Technologies launched its Uppy app, a product that promised to do all the heavy lifting for medical marijuana users trying to find the best strain for a specific ailment.
In short, the Uppy app uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help medical marijuana users not only record their symptoms, but instantly find different and potentially new strains from recommendations made by the app based on millions of informational inputs.
With Uppy, users can input symptoms and their severity, track each session of medical marijuana use, and record the effect of a certain strain on their symptoms.
“Uppy Cannabis Journal is the first artificial intelligence driven medical cannabis app, which is designed to collect direct feedback on cannabis strains and over time provide strain and cannabis hardware recommendations,” said Chad Agate, Namaste’s chief technology officer on the day Uppy launched.
One year later, Maximum Yield Industry News caught up with Namaste’s interim CEO Meni Morim to see if the app is building a baseline of knowledge as intended. Then, if it is, to learn if the company had collected hard data demonstrating the app is effectively helping medical users find the strains to help them with their specific ailments understanding the company’s caveat that there are no guarantees of medical performance or results.
Here’s what Morim had to share with us:
Industry News: So, does it really work?
Meni Morim: “Our purpose in creating the Uppy app was to ultimately help cannabis patients choose both the best strain to help treat their ailment and the most suitable form of delivery hardware. But first, we had to prove that we could release a minimum viable product that would be welcomed in the cannabis marketplace by cannabis consumer patients and proving that these cannabis patients would freely offer their private medical data which we planned to be the driving fuel to make our app viable.
This was no easy feat as even our chief engineer, who we respect as a genius in developing our Uppy artificial intelligence app, told us it couldn’t be done. When Uppy proved him wrong, he was truly amazed. Uppy went viral in a matter of days, and because we chose to make it free, thousands of people have already downloaded the app and fed in their medical data.”
IN: How does Namaste benefit with a product that is no cost to consumers?
MM: “On the back end. Our plan is to provide consumers with our free app so they can input their symptoms into the Uppy AI algorithm. Uppy will then, for free, recommend the ideal strain to help them treat these specific symptoms along with the most suitable cannabis hardware delivery method, such as tincture, sublingual spray, vape pen, etc. Very soon, however, MMJ patients using Uppy will be automatically connected to our website where they will be able to proceed through a complete ordering system. After receiving Uppy’s recommendations, patients will be not only able to order and pay for the strain and its form of delivery hardware online, but have it delivered right to their doorstep within the same day by Pineapple Express.”
IN: Each individual reacts differently to cannabis in general, but how can the app distinguish one individual patient’s specific needs of treatment and find the strain most appropriate to effectively meet those personal needs? For example, do patients using the app need to input their blood type, metabolic rate, and existing medical conditions like diabetes for example, besides the usual data doctors assemble like height, sex, weight, body mass, etc?
MM: “We discovered over the last year since launching the app that user profile and specific physical attributes has had very little impact on the quality of the recommendations. Surprisingly, it was the user feedback after trying it, and the sheer quantity of that feedback, that accelerated Uppy’s AI learning. User feedback, which has so far been 100 per cent positive by the way, drastically reduced the AI learning curve for the Uppy app. It was the sheer weight of the quantity (as opposed to the quality) of user feedback data that provided an immensely helpful tsunami of data in how our patients responded to Uppy’s recommendations after the fact.”
IN: Quite frankly, we were leery of the app when it first caught our attention, assuming it would be just another smart phone gimmick much closer to a cannabis game than a serious medical tool that we now understand it to be.
MM: “Precisely! We saw a real need in the cannabis industry to provide a serious tool for medical marijuana users that could help them access the exacting treatment options they wished were available but no one had yet stepped up to the plate to provide for them until we created Uppy.
For over a decade, up until a year ago, medical cannabis patients could get a legal prescription for medical marijuana from their doctor. But that still left the patient wide open to mistakenly choose the wrong strain they really needed. It was like a patient receiving a prescription for a general antibiotic that only provided a poor level of treatment because the patient’s specific ailment required a much more recent, newer, and powerful antibiotic formulation that could beat a virus’s ability to morph and develop a resilience to older antibiotics rendering them ineffective.
To put it in a cannabis perspective, while a general prescription for medical marijuana was a great leap forward, it still left patients, suffering from anxiety for example, vulnerable to mistakenly choose a strain that provided an ultra-stimulating energizing effect that would only magnify his or her anxiety when what the patient really needed was a calming, soothing strain to quell their anxiety.
For this reason, the Baby Boomer generation is one of our largest user bases now because the Uppy app is able to give them exactly what strain they need, even if they are very new to cannabis as a medicinal powerhouse. Before, they were afraid to even consider it because it was illegal and loaded with many negative connotations and misconceptions. Now, they don’t have to waste time researching and learning cannabis from scratch because with Uppy, they can get exactly the strain they need. And because many Baby Boomers are uncomfortable with smartphones and use them grudgingly, Uppy will soon be available to download onto desktop PCs.”