Microsoft has announced a new platform designed to make it easier to build and operate artificial intelligence-based technology for use in cutting-edge, low-power devices, such as cameras and audio equipment.
The Azure Percept (DK) development kit, which is available in public preview starting today, promises to provide a unique end-to-end system that enables customers without coding knowledge to develop an AI product at start from nothing.
The hope is that this new platform will help create a Microsoft-powered edge device ecosystem designed for low-power implementations, essentially replicating its success with the Windows operating system in the PC market.
The platform, announced during Microsoft Ignite, will work alongside Azure Percept Vision and Azure Percept Audio, two complementary services that can connect to Azure cloud services such as Azure AI, Azure Machine Learning, Azure Live Video Analytics. and the various Microsoft IoT services. .
Early concepts suggest that the platform is initially intended for use cases involving retail and warehousing, where customers can take advantage of services such as object detection, shelf analysis, detection anomalies and keyword detection, among others.
Microsoft explained that the DK “drastically” lowers the bar for what is needed to develop cutting-edge technology, especially since most implementations require some degree of engineering and data science expertise to make it. a success.
“With Azure Percept, we broke that barrier,” said Moe Tanabian, vice president of Microsoft and general manager of the Azure Edge and Devices group. “For many use cases, we’ve significantly lowered the technical bar needed to develop cutting-edge AI-based solutions, and citizen developers can build them without the need for in-depth integrated engineering or data science skills. . “
Customers who sign up for the platform will also receive a range of Edge-enabled hardware that allows processes like speech and image recognition to take place without requiring a connection to the cloud. Initially, this will be built by Microsoft, however, the company has also confirmed that third-party manufacturers will be able to build equipment certified to run on the Azure Percept platform.
“We started with the two most common AI workloads, vision and voice, sight and sound, and we gave this blueprint for manufacturers to take the foundation of what we started,” he said. said Roanne Sones, vice president. president of Microsoft’s Edge and Platform group. “But they can envision it in any kind of responsible form factor to cover a model of the world.”
Microsoft’s own hardware also uses the industry standard 80/20 T-slot framing architecture, which it says will make it easier for customers to pilot their ideas with housing and existing edge infrastructure.
Elevators capable of responding to personalized voice commands, cameras that alert managers when shelves are low on stock, and video feeds that monitor parking lot availability are just a few examples of how the technology could be deployed, Microsoft explained.
Azure Percept Studio, another complementary service, will provide step-by-step guides to guide customers through the lifecycle of an edge tool, from design to implementation. Perhaps more importantly, customers using Percept Studio will also have access to AI models created by the open source community.
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