IBM Watson Acquires Artificial Intelligence Startup Cognea

IBM’s Watson group has announced a new acquisition today — artificial intelligence company Cognea. IBM confirmed the acquisition via a blog post.

Cognea developed a cognitive computing and conversational artificial intelligence platform. The startup offers virtual assistants that relate to people through personalities. On the company’s AngelList page, it says it counts NASA, HP and Start Farm as customers.

As IBM explains, “We believe this focus on creating depth of personality, when combined with an understanding of the users’ personalities will create a new level of interaction that is far beyond today’s “talking” smartphones. We welcome to IBM, [Cognea’s] co-founders Liesl Capper and John Zakos, and the rest of the Cognea team.”

Watson is the artificially intelligent, question-answering supercomputer developed by IBM (that also trounced two former champions on Jeopardy). In January, IBM unveiled the Watson Group, which aimed to further develop, commercialize and expand Watson and other cognitive technologies. At the time, IBM said it would invest $1 billion in the Watson Group to be used broadly for R&D and investments. The Watson Group has already backed Welltok, a maker of online healthcare management communities, and Fluid, which is building a cognitive shopping assistant.

So what does this mean for Watson? IBM says Cognea’s technology will be brought into Watson, giving the system the ability to have more real conversations with users.

IBM adds that Watson conversational services will be available to its business partners, entrepreneurs, universities and enterprises.

See a demo of Cognea’s technology below. Does it remind you of Siri?