Microsoft enhances AI vision and search services for developers

Microsoft Custom Vision

Microsoft today announced several enhancements to its lineup of AI tools for developers. The tools, which make up a portion of Microsoft's Cognitive Services, include a public preview of its Custom Vision service, improvements to its Face API, and Bing Entity Search.

The most prominent development is the Custom Vision service preview, which allows developers to easily train a classifier with their own data. According to Microsoft, Custom Vision's machine learning tech opens up a range of possibilities for applications across industries.

With a couple of clicks, Custom Vision service can be used for a multiplicity of scenarios: retailers can easily create models that can auto-classify images from their catalogs (dresses vs shoes, etc.), social sites can more effectively filter and classify images of specific products, or national parks can detect whether images from cameras include wild animals or not.

The Custom Vision service is now available in public preview on the Azure Portal.

Microsoft also revealed that its Face API can now incorporate a set of up to a million faces. Developers should now be able to teach the Face API to recognize up to a million people "and still get lightning-fast responses," Microsoft says.

Face API

Lastly, Bing Entity Search is now generally available on the Azure Portal. Developers can use Bing Entity Search to gather better contextual data about famous people, places, movies, TV shows, games, and books. The data can then be used to do things like help people plan a night out in a messaging app or provide additional information about locations in a photo.

Microsoft has been on a mission to "democratize AI", and its Cognitive Services are a major part of that. To date, Microsoft says, a million developers have tried its Cognitive Services since their launch in 2015. It's likely we'll hear more on this topic at Build 2018, but developers can learn more about Microsoft's latest milestones at the Azure blog.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl