IBM acquires AlchemyAPI to fatten Watson portfolio

AlchemyAPI offers advanced services for text mining and image recognition

IBM has acquired computing services provider AlchemyAPI to broaden its portfolio of Watson-branded cognitive computing services.

AlchemyAPI's set of services could help developers augment their applications with machine-learning capabilities typically too complex to maintain in-house.

IBM is banking on a great need for such services. Cognitive computing will generate $50 billion in IT business within the U.S. alone, according to consulting firm Deloitte.

AlchemyAPI was founded in 2005 to provide computing services accessed over the Internet by a set of APIs (application programming interfaces). Approximately 40,000 developers have used AlchemyAPI's services.

AlchemyAPI offers a text-mining service that can ingest and model unstructured text data. The company's site provides a demonstration of how the service can parse a news article to generate a taxonomy of concepts, as well as a summary of pertinent details such as author and publication.

Another AlchemyAPI service can recognize discrete objects within images and video, which could be handy for tasks such as face recognition.

AlchemyAPI's offerings will be folded into Watson Developer Cloud, which offers a set of services that can be embedded in network-connected applications. Developers can access these capabilities on the IBM Bluemix services platform.

Last month, IBM added five new services to the Watson portfolio, including speech-to-text, text-to-speech and the company's own visual recognition services.

Thus far, over 7,000 third-party applications utilize Watson developer services.

Also of interest to IBM is that AlchemyAPI's services can work in eight different languages: English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. IBM itself recently struck a partnership with telecommunications provider SoftBank to adapt Watson to work in Japanese, in an effort to expand the service's reach to global proportions.

IBM did not reveal how much it paid for AlchemyAPI, based up to now in Denver.

IBM is not alone in offering cloud-based machine learning technologies. Last month, Microsoft launched a general-use machine learning service on its Azure cloud.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
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