IBM buys startup to give Watson "depth of personality"


IBM has bought Cognea, a startup developing virtual assistants that interact with users via A.I.-based personalities. Terms are undisclosed.

Big Blue plans to integrate Cognea's technology with its Watson A.I. hardware/software, with the goal of allowing Watson to deliver "conversational services." Potential end-markets mentioned by the company include "virtual personal assistants, health coaches, companions for elderly people, investment advisors, tutors, travel agents, customer care agents and shopping advisors."

Google (Now), Apple (Siri), Nuance (Dragon Mobile), and Microsoft (Cortana) are few of the companies that have already made big investments in virtual assistant platforms.

IBM, hungry to halt double-digit server revenue declines, promised to invest over $1B in Watson in January, including $100M in startups working on software/services for Watson systems. But while the company is hoping Watson produces $10B/year in revenue in ten years, the platform had only produced $100M in revenue as of last October.

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