A very interesting article on Mercury News with an interview to "HP Labs Director Prith Banerjee mentioning the latest HP Lab strategies and Cog Ex Machina, the software platform developed by HP Labs in collaboration with the Boston University Neuromorphics Lab.
From the article: "HP Labs Director Prith Banerjee wants to be disruptive. When he was named to lead Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ) research arm in 2007, Banerjee launched a reorganization that narrowed the labs' focus to a short list of high-impact research topics, described as "Big Bets" that have the potential to create significant business opportunities for HP."
"Q: What's a new project that you've launched in the last year?
A: We have several. One involves cognitive computing, a project we call "Cog ex Machina." That came out of work we are doing with Shell Oil, where we have a tremendous amount of data coming from thousands of sensors in an oil field. Today, human beings look at that data (and interpret it). This project will develop intelligent analytics; it's not quite artificial intelligence but it has similar goals.
Q: Do you think you've missed any good ideas by focusing on a small number of "Big Bets," instead of a larger number of projects?
A: No. We allow people to use 20 percent of their time to look at new areas. In addition, we have seven labs and the director of each lab has 20 percent of the staff working on completely wacky things that I don't know about. At the end of the year, I ask each director, "What happened in your 'Big Bet' projects?" And then, "Surprise me! What else have you done?" The Cog ex Machina project came out of this."