Yahoo on Wednesday announced a research partnership with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) that could help the Web giant accelerate development of more personalized services and user-friendly mobile tools.
The five-year, $10 million effort, called Project InMind, will focus on a set of experimental mobile software that will serve as a “living laboratory” for researchers to test ways machine learning can be used to more accurately predict a user’s needs and intentions. That, in turn, could help Yahoo offer more highly tailored apps or other products as it seeks to build out its mobile business.
"By creating a way for Carnegie Mellon University researchers to work directly with Yahoo software and infrastructure, we hope to speed up the pace of mobile and personalization research and create a better user experience,” said Dr. Ron Brachman, chief scientist and head of Yahoo Labs, the company’s tech incubator, in a statement.
Members of the CMU community who opt-in to use the experimental software, or mobile toolkit, supplied by Yahoo, will provide researchers access to actual user data and the ability to rapidly iterate on the technologies.
The alliance also includes a new Yahoo-sponsored fellowship program at CMU that will provide financial and research support to computer science students and faculty members. Yahoo Fellows will have the chance to pursue research in disciplines including machine learning, mobile technologies, human-computer interaction and natural language processing.
"This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for our students and faculty to work directly with a team of leading-edge researchers from Yahoo Labs on technologies that could benefit hundreds of millions of mobile users," stated Dr. Randal E. Bryant, professor and dean of the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.
CMU will own any intellectual property resulting from the partnership, which Yahoo would have the option to license. Yahoo would also be able to specify certain projects as sponsored research and then own the corresponding IP. Any IP developed at Yahoo, such as during a summer internship, will be owned by Yahoo, according to a company spokesperson.
The Project InMind research will take place both at Yahoo Labs facilities in Sunnyvale, Calif. and the CMU campus in Pittsburgh. It will be directed at CMU by Dr. Tom Mitchell, Fredkin Professor of Computer Science and Machine Learning and head of the Machine Learning Department, and by Dr. Justine Cassell, the Charles M. Geschke director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute.