Microsoft makes more AI programming interfaces available to developers

Microsoft is making available new vision, face recognition and entity search interfaces to developers who want to add more AI smarts to their apps and services.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is continuing to roll out more application programming interfaces (APIs), which enable developers to add customizable AI features to their applications.


On March 1, Microsoft made available a paid public preview of its Custom Vision service; increased the set of recognizable faces to one million in its Face API; and made generally available in the Azure portal its Bing Entity Search service.

These APIs and services are all part of the 25-plus Cognitive Services on which Microsoft is working.

Last May, Microsoft officials said 568,000 developers were using its Cognitive Services to add AI smarts to their own apps and services. This week, officials said that more than one million developers have signed up and used Microsoft's Cognitive Services.

The custom Vision Service API allows developers to train a classifier with their own data with a set of as few as a dozen images or so, and run it offline in real-time on iOS, Android and other "edge" devices.

"Nobody has time to build a custom model from scratch," said Cognitive Services Principal Group Program Manager Andy Hickl."This lets you upload images, annotate them to best of your ability and uses active learning to suggest more annotations."

Bing Entity Search adds context about people, places, things, and local businesses which can be added to any apps, blogs or websites. The entities about which Microsoft has information include famous people, places, movies, TV shows, games, and books.

In related AI news, Microsoft announced today that Javier Soltero is now responsible for overseeing Cortana, as reported by Axios. He was formerly Corporate Vice President of Office and is now Corporate Vice President of Cortana.

A Microsoft spokesperson said Soltero is taking on a brand new role, not replacing someone who has been in that position. Andrew Schuman remains the Corporate Vice President of Cortana Engineering.

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