Big Blue moved to beef up its Watson artificial intelligence operation with the acquisition of AlchemyAPI, a machine-learning systems maker. Announced Wednesday, the deal aims to bring 40,000 new developers into IBM’s Watson developer community.
IBM said it plans to integrate AlchemyAPI’s deep-learning technology into the core of its Watson platform, augmenting Watson’s abilities to identifiy hierarchies and understand relationships within large sets of data. The company said it expects the new technology to significantly improve Watson’s learning capabilities. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Cognitive Computing Capabilities
AlchemyAPI was founded in 2005. Its API services are designed to help developers build artificial intelligence applications with advanced data analysis capabilities such as taxonomy categorization, entity and keyword extraction, sentiment analysis and Web page cleaning. According to AlchemyAPI, its software platform already processes billions of API calls per month across 36 countries and in eight different languages: English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.
“We founded AlchemyAPI with the mission of democratizing deep learning artificial intelligence for real-time analysis of unstructured data and giving the world’s developers access to these capabilities to innovate,” said Elliot Turner, founder and CEO, AlchemyAPI. “As part of IBM’s Watson unit, we have an infinite opportunity to further that goal.”
In addition, the acquisition will expand the number and types of scalable cognitive computing APIs available to its clients, developers, partners and other members of the Watson ecosystem, according to IBM. That expansion includes language analysis APIs to address new types of text and visual recognition, and the ability to automatically detect, label and extract important details from images.
Building the Watson Platform
Mike Rhodin, senior vice president at IBM Watson, said that the company would continue to expand Watson’s capabilities through both organic growth and by acquiring additional companies with attractive technological features to help bring Watson to new industries, markets, and regions.
Available commercially as one of IBM’s cloud computing services, Watson allows clients to analyze high volumes of data. The company describes Watson as a “cognitive computing service,” as it is able to understand complex questions posed in natural language, and propose evidence-based answers. Watson continuously learns, gaining in value and knowledge over time, from previous interactions.
AlchemyAPI’s cognitive computing services, including new language analysis and visual recognition services, will be made available immediately to IBM clients through Bluemix, the company’s developer platform. IBM said the new services will allow developers to quickly build a range of business applications.
IBM launched the Watson business unit in January of last year as a cloud-computing service for delivering artificial intelligence analysis to business clients. The company has said that it is investing $1 billion in the unit, with most of that to be focused on research and development and bringing cognitive applications to market.
Image credit: Watson product shot with logo from IBM.
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