Watson gets even smarter as IBM buys startup AlchemyAPI

File photo. Attendees gather at an IBM Watson event in lower Manhattan, New York January 9, 2014.

File photo. Attendees gather at an IBM Watson event in lower Manhattan, New York January 9, 2014.  ( REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

IBM Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities got an added boost with Wednesday’s announcement that the tech and consulting company has acquired AlchemyAPI – an on-the-rise startup that provides cognitive computing software to carry out natural language processing for clients that range from big business to web publishers. The new partnership allows IBM to accelerate Watson’s growing cognitive capacity.

“This is a big step forward in accelerating our strategy,” John Gordon, vice president of the IBM Watson Group, told “We talked for a  long time about not keeping Watson just for ourselves, but to open it up. To usher in a new era of computing for enterprises, entrepreneurs, educators, and more.”

The acquisition further grows IBM’s impressive brain trust, bringing the 40,000 developers that have utilized AlchemyAPI’s platform into the IBM Watson fold. The financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed, according to an IBM press release.

Gordon asserted that this collaboration between the companies will “enhance the types of ways” that Watson’s cognitive computing technology – which has been leveraging its ability to process Big Data in various sectors from healthcare to education – will continue to “interact with the world.”

According to the release, the integration with AlchemyAPI’s platform will complement Watson’s ability to “understand relationships within large volume data sets,” expanding the number of application programming interfaces (APIs) – toolsets, if you will, for building software applications – to IBM’s various clients and partners that use Watson.

The partnership is another step in moving cognitive computing toward a greater comprehension of human language processing, something that Gordon said will make computing systems like Watson more and more ubiquitous across industries.

“We’ve already opened up Watson’s developer cloud that has been used to build 7,000 apps powered by Watson,” Gordon said. “It’s been used from retail to legal, and has allowed Watson to move in a number of different areas. I think the industry will keep looking for more and more ways for cognitive computing to interact naturally and continue to learn. Ultimately, AlchemyAPI shared our vision for the next era of computing.”