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Azure AI Enhanced with Cognitive Services Updates

The Microsoft Azure team today announced several updates to boost artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities on the cloud platform.

Specifically, the team announced new anomaly detection functionality and Custom Vision for identifying objects in images with Azure Cognitive Services.

Cognitive Services is one part of the Azure AI platform, which also includes: knowledge mining with Azure Search; several machine learning services; and AI apps and agents, including Cognitive Services.

Microsoft says Cognitive Services help developers use intelligent algorithms in apps, Web sites and bots "to see, hear, speak, understand and interpret your user needs through natural methods of communication."

On the "see" front, a new Anomaly Detector helps developers -- as the name suggests -- detect irregularities such as unusual patterns in data or rare events, which Microsoft said can helps users foresee problems before they occur.

Detecting data anomalies serves a number of use cases, helping with things like:

  • Identifying fraud, such as credit card misuse
  • Identifying business incidents and text errors
  • Monitoring Internet of Things (IoT) device traffic
  • Responding to changing markets

The other main enhancement highlighted by Microsoft is the general availability of Custom Vision to help identify objects in images.

New improvements to Custom Vision include:

  • High quality models: Custom Vision features advanced training with a new machine learning back-end for improved performance, especially on challenging datasets and fine-grained classification.
  • Iterate with ease: Custom Vision helps developers integrate computer vision capabilities into applications with 3.0 REST APIs and SDKs.
  • Train in the cloud, run anywhere: The exported models are optimized for the constraints of a mobile device, providing incredible throughput while still maintaining high accuracy. Now, developers can also export classifiers to support Azure Resource Manager (ARM) for Raspberry Pi 3 and the Vision AI Dev Kit.

The Custom Vision release notes list many more new features.

Microsoft said more than 1 million developers have tried Cognitive Services. "From using speech recognition, translation, and text-to-speech to image and object detection, Azure Cognitive Services makes it easy for developers to add intelligent capabilities to their applications in any scenario," the team said in an announcement blog post today (March 26).

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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