We have arrived at a fascinating moment in the history of software development. Data is abundant, readily available, and easy to share, and nearly unlimited processing power is becoming obtainable to more and more people around the world.
Add to that mix the public availability of new, powerful, and easy to use artificial-intelligence (AI) algorithms that Microsoft had previously used only in-house, and developers now have a mind-boggling degree of programming power, right at their fingertips.
With AI, we can tap into huge amounts of data and make it work for us by giving us insights into whatever we care about. Microsoft Cognitive Services provides a rich source of AI algorithms, enabling apps to see, hear, speak, understand, and interpret users’ needs. Cognitive Services APIs can analyze video, images, voice, language, gestures, and more. Through Cognitive Services, developers—even junior coders—can add a broad spectrum of advanced AI functionality to their apps with less effort than many ever thought possible.
Prowess recently demonstrated this ease by walking developers through creating a rental app similar to Airbnb that drew upon one of the Cognitive Services APIs. In about an hour, users experienced the ease of building AI into an app first hand by hooking code into an API called Project Local Insights. Project Local Insights helps “score” the attractiveness of a location based on the number of amenities (such as restaurants, parks, and transit stops) within a specific distance.
Cognitive Services APIs can even add exciting functionality to emerging technologies such as mixed and virtual reality (VR). Developers can use Bing Speech API, for example, to convert spoken audio to text, which is especially important in VR because using keyboards for text input is impractical. Custom Speech Service is another useful API that allows developers to add speech-recognition capabilities for custom vocabulary and names, which are typical in games. Finally, there’s even a service that helps devices recognize hand gestures, creating more intuitive and natural experiences for users in immersive environments.
Microsoft Cognitive Services, with new services such as the Project Local Insights API, the Text Analytics API, and the Computer Vision API, allow developers to get started quickly on making the next big app – possibly an app to change the world.
It’s exciting to imagine the effects of lowering the barrier to entry so any level of developer can make the app of their dreams with sophisticated features, propelling us forward to democratizing AI, and perhaps even competing against big players.