Intel buys cognitive computing startup Saffron

With IBM pouring millions of dollars into the emerging field of cognitive computing, Intel got in on the act Monday by announcing its acquisition of Saffron.

With IBM pouring millions of dollars into the emerging field of cognitive computing, Intel got in on the act Monday by announcing its acquisition of Saffron.

The startup company has developed a technology that "ingests data from disparate sources and automatically connects the dots to help businesses of all kinds improve decision-making," Intel said in a blog post.

It sounds like data analytics, but Saffron claims its "natural intelligence platform" can uncover connections without needing to be programmed with models and rules. It says its technology "learns" incrementally based on patterns it finds in the data.

It's used for tasks as varied as predicting part failures in aircraft and uncovering insurance fraud, according to Saffron's website.

IBM is also promoting cognitive computing, through its Watson supercomputer. It's a computing style that attempts to mimic how the human brain works to solve problems.

"We see an opportunity to apply cognitive computing not only to high-powered servers crunching enterprise data, but also to new consumer devices that need to see, sense and interpret complex information in real time," Intel said.

Cognitive computing often employs a related technique called machine learning, which Google had a lot to say about on its quarterly earnings call last week. They're both small stepping stones on the long road to creating artificial intelligence.

Read more: Why artificial intelligence is set to automate marketing

Saffron will become part of Intel's New Devices Group, which was set up to help Intel jump on emerging technologies quickly, particularly related to mobility and the Internet of Things.

"Saffron will continue growing its existing, standalone business as well as contribute its technology to Intel efforts and platforms spanning new devices, big data, cyber security, healthcare and IOT," Intel said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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